House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) took the long-overdue step this week of issuing a subpoena for Attorney General Merrick Garland. His demand concerned the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) surveillance of lawmakers’ staff during the Trump years.
The committee took action over Jordan’s request for details of a 2017 subpoena the DOJ issued to Google. That move demanded information on a Senate Judiciary Committee staffer and some of their colleagues.
Jason Foster worked for Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) as an investigative counsel. He recently disclosed that the DOJ demanded his communications early in the Trump administration.
House Judiciary Chair Jim Jordan issued a subpoena to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday over the Justice Department's use of its powers to obtain "private communications" of lawmakers and congressional aides. Read more: https://t.co/p808L2QSrX pic.twitter.com/vB6prh9ZwL
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) December 20, 2023
The excuse provided for this action was the investigation into debunked claims of “collusion” between the Republican president and Russia.
And now Jordan wants answers. In his letter to Garland, he noted that “the Executive Branch used its immense law enforcement authority to gather and search the private communications of multiple Legislative Branch employees who were conducting Constitutional oversight.”
The DOJ in early December claimed that the demand for communications was part of an investigation into possible leaked classified information. Officials said the referral came through the National Security Division and originated from the U.S. Intelligence Community.
However, the subpoena coincided with Grassley’s examination of the Steele Dossier.
This controversial document alleged Trump had been compromised by Russian intelligence and was given credence by many in the deep state before being debunked.
The timing, according to Jordan, is very suspicious. The DOJ apparently sought to surveil lawmakers and their staff at the same time these officials were conducting legitimate oversight of its activities.
In his letter to Garland, Jordan explained “The committee also has concerns that aspects of the department’s investigation may have been a pretext to justify piercing the Legislative Branch’s deliberative process and improperly access data from members and staff.”
When the explosive 2017 subpoena was disclosed in October, GOP lawmakers sent a letter to the DOJ. It demanded details on how the agency “subpoenas to obtain private communications of Legislative Branch employees.”
By all appearances, the DOJ decided to investigate those who were engaged in congressional oversight of its possible misdeeds. This begs for more scrutiny, which is exactly why Jordan issued this most recent subpoena.