Barr also said that while he was attorney general he was “unaware of the files of a congressman wanted in a leak case.” He also said Trump had never encouraged him to target Democratic lawmakers in this matter.
“He didn’t know who we were looking at in any of the cases,” he said. “I never discussed the leaks with Trump. He didn’t really ask me for details.
According to the Times, the leak investigation swept through the metadata of the committee’s leading Democrat, Representative Adam Schiff of California, who has since become its chairman, and Representative Eric Swalwell of California, another prominent critic of Trump who sits. to the panel.
Democratic leaders in Congress are already swear to investigate efforts by Trump’s Justice Department to seize their disclosure records. And Barr’s comments are unlikely to appease their criticisms of his leadership within the department.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Judicial Committee Chairman Dick Durbin on Friday called on Barr and Sessions to appear before the judicial panel to answer questions about covert efforts to subpoena the metadata of communication.
“This appalling politicization of the Justice Department by Donald Trump and his sycophants must be investigated immediately by both the Justice Department Inspector General and Congress,” said Schumer and Durbin, the two main Democrats in the upper house, in a joint statement, adding that the Judicial Commission “will vigorously investigate this abuse of power.”
While Democrats control the panel, a subpoena would require the support of at least one GOP member, as the committee is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.
Barr said he installed Osmar Benvenuto in the Department of Justice’s national security division in February 2020 in an attempt to revive the leak investigations after Craig Carpenito, the US attorney from New Jersey, recommended him to Barr. as a “very experienced prosecutor.” [who] could quickly determine which of these cases merited further investigative action and what could be done to resolve them. “
“I was criticized by members of the Cabinet and members of the intelligence community that the department had done nothing about these leaks, so I wanted to make sure they were prosecuted,” said Barr.
When the subpoenas were reportedly issued, Rod Rosenstein was the Deputy Attorney General. John Demers became the head of the Department of Justice’s national security division, which handles leak probes, in February 2018. Rosenstein has since left the department for a private practice; Demers still heads the National Security Division.
Mary McCord, a career lawyer, headed the National Security Division before Demers was confirmed to the Senate.
“All I can say is that any investigation involving an elected official would be considered a sensitive matter that would require high-level approval from the department,” she told POLITICO when contacted about comment.
Schiff and Swalwell have both been among Trump’s most vocal critics, and the former president has frequently pursued them on Twitter.
Trump himself has repeatedly tweeted that he believes Schiff is breaking the law by disclosing classified documents. The president’s missives would have presented major challenges for any prosecutor attempting to press charges against lawmakers.
“Congressman Adam Schiff, who spent two years knowingly and illegally lying and disclosing, should be forced to resign from Congress!” He tweeted on March 28, 2019. Twitter has since deleted Trump’s account and his tweets are archived separately.