Trump-era Justice Department emerges as scandal of the summer
Washington has been served up an unprecedented controversy, and now officials from two branches of government are rushing to get a piece of the scandal spoils.
Driving the news: In the spotlight... the Trump-era Justice Department, which seized records from journalists and House Democrats during a leaks investigation over stories about the Russia probe.
- Now Senate Democrats and the Biden-era Justice Department inspector general are separately launching investigations.
Back in 2017 and 2018, the DOJ obtained a gag order against Apple and subpoenaed the company to hand over data belonging to a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee.
- It also secretly seized the phone records of journalists working for CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times.
The big picture: "While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one," the N.Y. Times reports.
- The seized records contained no proof of leaks.
Michael Schmidt, one of four reporters on the N.Y. Times blockbuster, told "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on MSNBC:
"This is the first instance we know the Justice Department has done this. There could have been other leak investigations. We don't have full visibility into all of them. Those are conducted in secret.""Regardless of what went into the Justice Department's decision here, this is exactly what [then-President Trump] was calling for publicly and privately at a time that he was putting as much pressure as possible on the folks at the top of the department."
The bottom line: The slow drip, drip of stories has now turned into the potential big story of the summer.