Incoming House Judiciary chairman vows to probe DOJ snooping on congressional investigators

Rep. Jim Jordan says the revelations by Just the News that DOJ subpoenaed phone and email records of House Intelligence investigators in 2017 make him wonder if DOJ is now clandestinely monitoring his own work with FBI whistleblowers.

Updated: December 21, 2022 - 11:11pm

Incoming House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan is vowing to investigate why the Justice Department eavesdropped on congressional staffers probing the FBI's discredited Russia collusion case, saying it is the latest evidence of how politicized federal law enforcement has become.

"The first step in stopping it is to make sure everyone knows exactly what went on," Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told the "Just the News, Not Noise" television show Wednesday night.

He said probing why DOJ used grand jury subpoenas to obtain the email and phone data of two House Intelligence Committee staffers in late 2017 will be part of a larger oversight investigation into the conduct of the FBI and federal prosecutors that also includes the targeting of parents protesting at school boards in 2021, the censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story in 2020 and the targeting of the Trump campaign on false Russia collusion claims in 2016.

Jordan said the targeting of the congressional investigators' communications amounted to the DOJ "spying" on the work of then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes as he was unraveling the failures and misconduct of the FBI in securing warrants that targeted the Trump campaign in a now-discredited Russia collusion probe.

"This is frightening, and never forget the time frame," he said. "This was right in the fall of 2017. Right when Devin was putting together that memo, that memo that was going to show the dossier and all the stuff they were doing with the Trump Russia investigation was all built on a bunch of baloney."

At the time the subpoenas were issued, then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was overseeing the Russia probe and had threatened to pursue congressional investigators.

"This definitely falls under this broad umbrella of how political the Justice Department has become over the last several years," Jordan said. "You know, whether it's the school boards issue, whether it's their involvement with the social media companies in the run-up to the presidential election in 2020, or whether it was what they did with spying on President Trump's campaign, the Mueller investigation, Rosenstein making this decision to allow this spying on Devin Nunes' staff to take place. All that's part of it.

"So yeah, we'll look into it. We don't know the specifics yet of how that that part of the investigation would proceed." 

Just the News reported Monday that DOJ used grand jury subpoenas in November and December 2017 to compel Google to turn over phone and email data for two of Nunes' investigators working directly on the probe of FBI misconduct in the Russia case.

The subpoenas were served during a critical time frame in the committee's effort to expose the Donald Trump-Russia collusion investigation as having been driven by an uncorroborated political opposition dossier funded by Hillary Clinton. Nunes' committee was locked at the time in a bitter struggle to force the FBI and DOJ to turn over records to the committee.

The DOJ subpoenas came to light in the last few days when the former committee staffers were informed by Google that their records had been taken, consistent with the Big Tech company's policy of alerting customers five years after law enforcement takes such actions.

One of the subpoenaed staffers, former Intelligence Committee senior counsel Kash Patel, told Just the News that the DOJ's subpoenas were an extraordinary intrusion on congressional oversight and raised serious concerns of a breach of the separation of executive and legislative branch powers prescribed in the Constitution.

"It's so shocking," Patel said. "Because a coequal branch of government, we as congressional investigators and Devin Nunes, his staff on House Intel were conducting constitutionally demanded oversight of the fraudulent acts at the FBI and DOJ which we now know happened."

Jordan told Just the News on Wednesday night he now wonders whether the FBI or DOJ might be snooping on his oversight work, especially given that he has interviewed multiple FBI whistleblowers in recent months. DOJ recently warned FBI officials about talking to Congress.

"These FBI agents that come to us and take whistleblower status, they're protected by the law," Jordan said. "But it does make you wonder, I think it's a fair question. Particularly in light of that memorandum that the Attorney General sent out earlier this year, after a number of these whistleblowers came to us and came to" Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley and Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson." 

"That's frightening stuff," he said of the warning DOJ gave whistleblowers about their contacts with Congress. "But I think these whistleblowers understand how political that place has become. They were willing to come talk to us because they know they can trust us, and most importantly, they know how bad it is over there. That's why they came forward in the first place."