DOJ Top National Security Official Quits Over Trump-Era Records Seizure From Suspected Democrat Leakers
The Justice Department’s top national security official, John Demers, is resigning from his position following revelations that the department, under Trump, seized records from Democrats and members of the media suspected of engaging in numerous leaks of sensitive information designed to harm President Trump and his administration.
According to AP, Demers will leave his position by the end of next week.
The move comes amid questions over what Demers knew about the Trump DOJ’s efforts to seize phone data from House Democrats and reporters after it emerged last week that in 2018, Apple was secretly subpoenaed for metadata from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and another Democratic member of the panel, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, while the two were engaged in what Trump called a ‘witch hunt’ over his non-existent ties to Russia.
The announcement of his resignation comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Demers should appear before Congress voluntarily or face a subpoena to answer questions about the subpoenas, in addition to former attorneys general Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions.
Demers will be replaced by Mark Lesko, the acting U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, the official said.
Demers has been in charge of the department’s national security division since February 2018, being sworn in a few weeks after the subpoena was issued to Apple for the Democrats’ records, and his division has played a role in each of the leak investigations. –AP
Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Monday that he had directed Deputy AG Lisa Monaco to “evaluate and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for obtaining records” from members of Congress, according to Axios.
The change would ostensibly make it more difficult to investigate Democratic politicians allegedly leaking against a sitting president.
More via Axios:
Why it matters: At Garland’s direction, the Justice Department’s inspector general has opened an investigation into the Trump-era DOJ’s use of secret subpoenas to obtain data belonging to House Democrats.
The big picture: At least a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee — including Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), both fierce critics of former President Trump — had records seized between 2017 and early 2018 as part of a leak investigation.
Democrats in Congress have launched their own investigations and demanded that former Attorney Generals Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify.
The inspector general will also review the Justice Department’s secret seizure of phone records of journalists working for major media companies that reported on the Russia investigation, including CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post.
What they’re saying: Garland said in a statement that in addition to the inspector general investigation, Monaco is “already working on surfacing potentially problematic matters” related to the subpoenas that deserve “high level review.”
“There are important questions that must be resolved in connection with an effort by the department to obtain records related to Members of Congress and Congressional staff,” said Garland, adding “If at any time as the investigation proceeds action related to the matter in question is warranted, I will not hesitate to move swiftly.”
Mon, 06/14/2021 – 12:10