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Congress launches new investigation into Trump-era DOJ scandal

Trump-era DOJ investigators secretly seized communications records from Trump's perceived political foes. Dems have launched a new investigation.


What we know is already striking: the Trump-era Justice Department investigators secretly seized communications records from at least two Democratic members of Congress, some of their staffers, and even some of their family members. Over the weekend, the public learned that then-White House Counsel Don McGahn was also targeted after clashing with his boss in the Oval Office.

But there remains a long list of questions regarding who was responsible, how the process unfolded, and why. To that end, the Justice Department's inspector general's office has already initiated a probe, and yesterday, Congress moved forward with an investigation of its own.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, D-NY, announced in a statement Monday that the committee "will investigate the Trump Administration's surveillance of Members of Congress, the news media, and others." ... "I am encouraged by the steps the Attorney General announced this morning, but we cannot wait for the Inspector General to share even his preliminary findings with DOJ, some months or years from now, before Congress contemplates a response," Nadler said in the statement.

In the same chamber, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), one of the Trump administration's apparent targets, also issued a statement saying he'd spoken with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, and he has "every confidence they will also do the kind of top-to-bottom review of the degree to which the department was politicized during the previous administration and take corrective steps."

Schiff added, however, that he believes it will "also be important for Congress to do its own oversight."

Meanwhile, in the Senate, the Judiciary Committee won't be able to issue any subpoenas -- Republicans have already made clear they won't cooperate with a review -- but every Democratic senator on the panel wrote to the attorney general yesterday, "requesting" that the Justice Department produce materials related to the scandal.

The letter added, "As a first step, we seek your immediate assurance that DOJ will preserve all relevant materials in its possession, custody, or control, including the materials in direct possession, custody, or control of current DOJ employees who were involved in these matters."

As for developments at Main Justice, Garland announced yesterday that the department will tighten its rules related to seizing information about members of Congress, adding, "Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law, we must ensure that full weight is accorded to separation-of-powers concerns moving forward."

Around the same time, the Justice Department announced the departure of John Demers, a Trump administration holdover who's led the department's National Security Division. As NBC News reported, it's likely that Demers would've been "briefed about decisions to subpoena phone records linked to reporters and members of Congress."

All of which is to say, this is not a one-day story.