House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ripped the Trump Administration Justice Department for allowing the seizure of phone data of two prominent Trump Democratic critics in Congress – and said the episode is worse than Watergate.
‘What the administration did, the Justice Department, the leadership of the former President, goes even beyond Richard Nixon,’ Pelosi said.
‘Richard Nixon had an enemies list. This is about undermining the rule of law,’ she said, referencing Nixon’s infamous enemies list, which included journalists and other figures.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi compared the seizure of lawmakers’ data to Nixon’s enemies list, saying: ‘This is about undermining the rule of law’
Democrats are demanding two former Trump attorneys general, Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions, come and testify, although each has denied knowing about the seizure. Apple informed those whose communications were seized, following the expiration of a court’s gag order.
Schiff and Swalwell – both members of the House Intelligence Committee and favorite Trump foils – had metadata taken from their devices by Justice Department prosecutors as officials tried to work out who was leaking information about meetings between Trump associates and Russian leaders.
Another bombshell report revealed that former White House counsel Don McGahn also had his information seized. Apple told McGahn last month that the DOJ had sought his information back in 2018.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., left, and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., both had their communications targeted
Pelosi compared the incident to Nixon’s ‘enemies list’
Prosecutors also reportedly got a subpoena for information from McGahn’s wife, Shannon.
The New York Times reported that a dozen people linked to the Intel committee – which would conduct an impeachment probe into Trump – had their information seized. The probe began in 2017 under Sessions.
Members of the media also were targeted in a leak probe, and execs from three media organizations – CNN, the Washington Post l, and the New York Times – were set to meet Monday with Attorney General Merrick Garland about it.
‘It’s a simple goal — it’s to protect the freedom of the press now and in the future,’ CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist said on the network’s air Sunday.
In a slashing op-ed, longtime CNN military correspondent Barbara Starr, who says DOJ attempted to obtain thousands of her work and personal emails, blasted the probe in a scorching op-ed.
‘Speaking for myself, I don’t know what the government was looking for when it snuck into my life. I am not the subject of an investigation and there is no suggestion of wrongdoing. But as a CNN journalist, myself and my newsroom clearly were being used as a tool by the Trump Justice Department,’ she wrote.
She had doubts about assurances from the new Biden team that the practice would end.
‘President Biden has said the seizing of reporters’ records will be stopped under his administration. But with all respect to him and his stated intentions, that is a promise of limited relevance. Unless new protections are codified, this could all happen again to any journalist. Secret proceedings, gag orders so CNN attorneys can’t speak to me, and eight reporters being swept up in investigations with no explanation — these are not part of a free press in the United States,’ she wrote.
‘I am genuinely horrified by what happened. I have covered the military as a CNN Pentagon correspondent for nearly 20 years and have always been honored to say I am part of the extraordinary fraternity known as the Pentagon press corps. Since the morning the plane hit the building on 9/11, we have traveled into harm’s way with the troops to cover America’s wars. Journalists have died in this endeavor. None of us should forget: America’s armed forces take a vow to uphold the Constitution, and that includes the First Amendment protections for a free press,’ she added.
‘Simply put, America’s armed forces are willing to die to protect all of our rights, including freedom of the press. The Justice Department must find a way to absolutely protect a free, functioning press as well.’