Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), in his capacity as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a subpoena to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Dec. 19.
The subpoena demands information on the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) alleged surveillance of Congress members and their staff in 2017. This action intensifies the scrutiny of the DOJ’s past activities.
Seeking documents on alleged DOJ surveillance
In his letter to Garland, Jordan requested all DOJ documents related to requests for communication and the department’s methods for obtaining private communications.
Jordan emphasized the importance of this information for shaping future legislative reforms.
He set a deadline of Jan. 19 for the DOJ to provide these documents, noting the department’s previous incomplete responses to his requests.
Jordan subpoenas DOJ following claims of secret surveillance
The subpoena follows Jordan’s October request for the DOJ to disclose all relevant documents regarding the alleged surveillance.
This request was spurred by claims from Jason Foster, a former Senate Judiciary Committee official, who stated in November that the DOJ had subpoenaed Google for his records in 2017 and ordered Google not to inform the concerned Congress members or staff for five years.
Allegations involving DOJ and grand jury subpoenas
Further allegations suggest that the DOJ used grand jury subpoenas to access the personal information of several House Republican staffers, including former Intelligence Committee senior counsel Kash Patel.
This probe, part of the investigation into the now-debunked Trump–Russia collusion narrative, reportedly included subpoenas for various personal details of Patel and Foster.
Jordan requests Big Tech’s help on DOJ surveillance
Jordan has extended his request for information to Big Tech companies, such as Apple and Alphabet, Google’s parent company.
He seeks their cooperation in providing details on the alleged surveillance.
In his correspondence with Garland, Jordan criticized the DOJ’s use of subpoenas, suggesting that it represented an overreach of executive authority into legislative branch activities.
Judiciary committee questions DOJ’s motives in congressional probe
The House Judiciary Committee, under Jordan’s leadership, expresses concerns that the DOJ’s investigation might have been a pretext to access data from members and staff involved in departmental oversight.
These actions, if proven true, could imply an infringement on the legislative branch’s deliberative processes.
DOJ’s new guidelines on congressional subpoenas
In response to the evolving situation, the DOJ has released new guidelines regarding the subpoenaing of congressional members or staff.
These guidelines stipulate that such subpoenas, interviews, and search warrants should involve consultation with the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section.
They aim to balance fair law enforcement with protecting individuals’ rights in criminal investigations.
Jordan’s subpoena to DOJ reflects tensions in U.S. government’s power balance
This ongoing conflict between the legislative and executive branches highlights the complexities of inter-branch oversight and the delicate balance of power within the U.S. government.
The subpoena by Rep. Jordan signifies heightened scrutiny of the DOJ’s past actions and raises questions about the boundaries of lawful surveillance.