Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called on former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr to testify before Congress regarding their roles in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) seizure of phone records from Democratic lawmakers and members of the media during their tenure under former President Donald Trump.
Trump’s DOJ subpoenaed phone data from Apple from Reps. Adam Schiff (D-California) and Eric Swalwell (D-California) to investigate whether the lawmakers were leaking information from the White House to the press. The investigation ultimately found no evidence of their involvement.
Barr, who succeeded Sessions to serve as Trump’s second Attorney General, claimed on Friday that he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case.”
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Pelosi did not find Barr’s claim to be credible.
“To say that they didn’t know anything about it is beyond belief,” the Speaker of the House said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” program on Sunday. “We will have to have them come under oath to testify about that.”
The actions taken under Trump’s Justice Department went “beyond Richard Nixon,” Pelosi added.
The Speaker reiterated her disbelief that neither Barr nor Sessions knew about the investigations.
“How could it be that there could be an investigation of members in the other branch of government and the press and the rest too and the attorneys general did not know?” Pelosi said.
Pelosi had called for an investigation into the matter last week, prior to her interview on CNN, describing as “harrowing” the seizure of records from Democratic lawmakers Trump had often assailed publicly.
“These actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our democracy,” Pelosi said upon revelation of the DOJ subpoenas.
In addition to the phone records of Schiff, Swalwell, their staff and family members (including a minor), Trump’s former White House counsel Don McGahn and his wife also had their records seized by the Justice Department.
Both Schiff and Swalwell have called for a formal inquiry into the DOJ’s subpoenaing of their records.
“I believe the [Justice Department] Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president,” Schiff said last week.
The investigation into his and others’ records by the DOJ violates “the separation of powers,” Schiff added, “but it also makes the Department of Justice a fully owned subsidiary of the president’s personal legal interest.”