Former attorneys general Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions should answer for the Trump Justice Department’s secret seizure of data about House Democrats, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday.
The New York Democrat called on the pair to testify before Congress, saying they should be subpoenaed if they refused to comply.
Recent revelations have shown that the DOJ seized data from the accounts of Reps. Adams Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both California Democrats, in 2018, when the White House was trying to crack down on leaks about Congress’ investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
“What has happened here are fingerprints of a dictatorship, not a democracy,” Schumer said at a press conference. “The miasma of the Trump administration’s abuses of power continues, and each demands full scrutiny.”
Along with targeting Schiff and Swalwell, who were the top-ranking members of the House Intelligence Committee in 2018, the DOJ seized records about their aides and family members. Apple was subpoenaed for the data.
“This was nothing less than gross abuse of power, an assault on the separation of powers,” Schumer said. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a record of this ever happening in the past.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has indicated he’ll probe the data seizures, according to Schumer, and the senior New York senator called on Republicans to join his call.
But after Senate Republicans voted against punishing Trump during his second impeachment trial, many of them arguing the country needed to move on from the 45th presidency, that seems unlikely.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., appeared to have Schumer in mind when she said on Sunday that Senate Democrats don’t have their house in order.
“We need to talk about the elephant in the room, which is Senate Democrats which are blocking crucial items in a Democratic agenda for … reasons that I think don’t hold a lot of water,” the progressive congresswoman said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
She pointed to President Biden’s infrastructure package, which has stalled in the Senate due to opposition from centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and from Republicans.
The chamber is divided 50-50, with a 60-vote majority needed to pass laws.
“We really need to start asking some of these Democratic senators where they plan on getting 60 votes,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“Do we settle for much less and an infrastructure package that has been designed largely by Republicans,” she said, “or can we really transform this country, create millions of union jobs, revamp our power grid, get people’s bridges fixed and schools rebuilt with 51 or 50 Democratic votes?”
Some Democrats have called for the Senate filibuster to be abolished — a move that could clear the way for bills to pass with 50 votes plus Vice President Kamala Harris’s tie-breaking vote — although Manchin opposes that move too.
Schumer spokesman Angelo Roefaro declined to comment on AOC’s remarks but said: “Sen. Schumer is laser-focused on passing the American Jobs Plan and a robust infrastructure bill that delivers for critical projects like the Gateway Tunnel, the 2nd Ave. Subway, the East River tunnels and more.”
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