Rep. Adam Schiff denounced Thursday the “politicization” of government under former President Donald Trump after The New York Times reported the Department of Justice targeted communication records of key Democratic lawmakers, their aides and family members.
“That is a terrible abuse of power, it violates, I think the separation of powers, but it also makes the Department Justice a fully-owned subsidiary of the president’s personal legal interests,” Schiff, who was targeted in the subpoena, said in an interview Thursday with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Schiff, who is now the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, did not name who else had been targeted and said that he did not know if Republican members were included, adding that the subpoenas were “extraordinarily broad.”
“President Trump repeatedly and flagrantly demanded that the Department of Justice carry out his political will, and tried to use the Department as a cudgel against his political opponents and members of the media,” Schiff, D-Calif., said in a statement. “It is increasingly apparent that those demands did not fall on deaf ears. The politicization of the Department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous assaults on our democracy carried out by the former President.”
The New York Times reported that the Justice Department in February 2018 subpoenaed metadata from the tech giant Apple related to the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members, including a minor child.
At the time, the House Intelligence Committee was investigating Russian interference into the 2016 election and conducting closed-door interviews with witnesses. Schiff and other Democrats on the committee became some of the most vocal critics of Trump in Congress.
Apple notified some members of the House Intelligence Committee in May of this year that their information had been included, a committee officials confirmed to NBC News. Apple also notified current and former staff and family members, including minor children, that their information had also been subject to subpoenas, the official said.
The committee asked Justice for more details and were informed in May that matter had been closed, the official said.
The probe was initially launched, the paper reported, to find the source of leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions began the probe and it was revived under his successor at Justice, Bill Barr.
The paper reported that ultimately, the probe did not connect anyone on the committee to the leaks.
Schiff said although the probe appears to be closed, there should be an internal investigation.
“Though we were informed by the Department in May that this investigation is closed, I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president,” he said in his statement.