DOJ Accused of Spying on Capitol Hill Staff: GOP Senators Demand Answers

( – Republican Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Mike Lee of Utah demand transparency from the Department of Justice (DOJ). This move comes in the wake of unsettling revelations that the agency had carried out clandestine surveillance of congressional staffers, a move the senators have deemed a “blatant assault on our democracy.”

The senators’ demand was issued in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland following an Empower Oversight Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The request revealed that the DOJ had secretly subpoenaed a Senate staffer’s private phone and email records during the investigations into the origins of the Trump-Russia probe under the Trump administration.

The FOIA request also exposed that the DOJ had subpoenaed Google for all phone records and text message logs relating to Jason Foster, the chief investigative counsel to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. During this time, Grassley was the committee chairman probing into DOJ malpractices.

The senators highlighted further evidence indicating that a House staffer’s records were also targeted in what they referred to as a “vendetta campaign.”

They underlined that in January 2018, Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, threatened to subpoena HSPCI staff’s records during a dispute over the DOJ’s failure to comply with the committee’s compulsory process. However, they noted that the DOJ and FBI’s targets were not limited to Republican staffers alone.

The senators emphasized that Empower Oversight had requested all relevant documents via a FOIA request. Despite this, they insisted on additional measures to guarantee transparency and accountability.

They demanded a comprehensive list of all DOJ officials involved in the drafting, supervising, or approving of the grand jury subpoenas in question. They also requested details of all the Senate and House employees who received subpoenas, the justifications for the DOJ seeking these grand jury subpoenas for personal records, and information on any other methods used by the DOJ to gather information.

The senators insisted on clarifying what Rod Rosenstein’s, former Deputy Attorney General’s, involvement was in the process, and the organizations were subpoenaed, including Google, Verizon, Apple, AT&T, etc.

The senators concluded by expressing their shock and concern over the violation of the separation of powers and the executive branch’s overreach in this case. They urged for answers from the DOJ, setting a deadline of November 22 for a response.

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