Top Senate Democrats on Friday called on former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions to testify before Congress after reports claimed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought phone records related to communications by House Intelligence Democrats.
“If they refuse, they are subject to being subpoenaed and compelled to testify under oath,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement. “In addition, the Justice Department must provide information and answers to the Judiciary Committee, which will vigorously investigate this abuse of power.”
They said that other officials should testify in front of Congress, adding that their Republican colleagues should “join us in getting to the bottom of this serious matter.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement on Thursday that an investigation is warranted.
For the initial reports about the subpoenas, the NY Times and other media cited anonymous and unnamed sources in saying that the DOJ subpoenaed Apple in order to obtain metadata of House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and committee member Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.). The NY Times report claimed the Justice Department was searching for members of Congress who were leaking information about the Trump administration to mainstream media outlets.
Barr told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that he wasn’t aware of DOJ-authorized subpoenas regarding House lawmakers’ communications.
“I didn’t recall that case,” Barr said. “Whatever steps were taken, were taken before I arrived.”
Schiff, who has long been an opponent of Trump and was a key architect of the former president’s first impeachment inquiry, told the New York Times and other media that the DOJ subpoena regarding his phone records was authorized in 2017 or 2018. And Swalwell, who has been accused by Republicans of being cozy with a Chinese Communist Party spy following an explosive Axios report that detailed his ties with the woman, said the DOJ obtained his phone data around the same time.
“What they were looking for, I still don’t know. Apparently, they didn’t find anything,” Schiff said during a CNN interview on Friday. He called for an investigation into the matter, alleging that Trump’s DOJ went after him in retaliation.
“It looks like they were renewed a number of times and, thankfully, … it looks like [the Biden administration] did not renew it,” Swalwell told CNN during the same segment.
The Epoch Times has contacted Trump’s office and the DOJ for comment. Officials with the DOJ declined to comment on the reports when contacted by other media outlets.