Jim Jordan demands Big Tech turn over records of 'unacceptable' DOJ surveillance targeting Congress
Demands come after Just the News revealed Republican and Democrat congressional staff were notified their phone records taken five years ago.
Seizing on bipartisan anger, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan on Tuesday demanded America's Big Tech companies turn over any records showing the Justice Department's effort to surveil or spy on congressional lawmakers or their staffs.
Jordan's letters to the CEOs of Google's parent company Alphabet, Apple, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, came a week after Just the News disclosed that as many as a dozen or more lawmakers and congressional investigators – both Republican and Democrat – had received belated notifications their personal email and phone records had been seized by grand subpoena six years ago,
Jordan argued the intrusions into the privacy of those targeted House and Senate investigators came as many were investigating wrongdoing by the DOJ and FBI related to the bungled, discredited Russia collusion investigation and were a clear infringement of Congress' right to conduct independent oversight of federal agencies and the Constitution's separation of powers.
"The Justice Department's efforts to obtain the private communications of congressional staffers, including staffers conducting oversight of the Department, is wholly unacceptable and offends fundamental separation of powers principles as well as Congress's constitutional authority to conduct oversight of the Department," Jordan wrote in the letters.
You can read the letter to Alphabet here.
"This revelation also follows news that the Department issued subpoenas to obtain the private emails and records of congressional staffers on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence who were conducting oversight of the Justice Department’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation. These revelations strongly suggest that the Justice Department weaponized its law-enforcement authority to spy on the entities seeking to hold it accountable," he added.
Just the News reported last week that several current and former congressional oversight staff have been recently informed that the U.S. Justice Department seized their phone and email records back in 2017 as part of leak investigations, belated revelations that have caused DOJ's internal watchdog to begin an investigation.
The targeted staffers include people who worked for the Senate Judiciary and House Intelligence committees who have direct oversight responsibility for the FBI and Justice Department, raising concerns that the legislative branch overseers were being monitored by those they oversee in the executive branch.
The Justice Department has declined to offer comment on the revelations. But one of the former Senate Judiciary Committee staffers whose records were taken, Jason Foster, told Just the News he feared the spying on Congress was more widespread.
"What it looks like occurred is that there was this extremely broad dragnet of of searching for information on everyone in the executive branch, with the very, very thin justification that they wanted to see all the personal emails and communications logs for everyone who had had access to the particular information that leaked," he said on an interview with the John Solomon Reports podcast.