Trump started speaking in the third person during a heated discussion with Bill Barr regarding the election results, book says

Trump Barr
President Donald Trump stands with Attorney General William Barr during the 38th Annual National Peace Officers’ Memorial Service at the U.S. Capitol, Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in Washington.

  • Trump spoke in the third person during a heated discussion with Bill Barr over voter fraud, per a new book.
  • Trump was incensed that Barr dismissed claims of mass voter irregularities during an AP interview.
  • Barr eventually resigned from his post just weeks after the AP interview.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Last December, then-Attorney General Bill Barr sat down with Associated Press reporter Michael Balsamo, where he essentially rejected then-President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Barr said that the Department of Justice had looked into credible claims of fraud, but notably revealed that “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election.”

After the interview, Barr then headed to the White House for a previously scheduled meeting with chief of staff Mark Meadows, where he was told by Meadows that Trump would be “livid” at the election-related statements from the interview, according to a new book by Washington Post reporters Carol D. Leonnig and Philip Rucker.

Barr was told by White House counsel Pat Cipollone that Trump wanted to see him in his private dining room, where the president was watching the right-leaning One America News Network (OANN).

The scene was tense, as “everything about the president telegraphed that he was in a barely contained rage,” and even resulted in him switching to the third person, which Leonnig and Rucker detailed in “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year.”

Trump immediately questioned Barr about the Associated Press interview, where he threw cold water on the president’s ongoing voter-fraud claims.

Read more: Where is Trump’s White House staff now? We created a searchable database of more than 327 top staffers to show where they all landed

“Bill did, you say this?” Trump asked in a “sharp and quick” manner, according to the book.

After Barr confirmed that he had indeed made the statement, Trump questioned him again.

“How could you say this?” Trump said, according to the book. “Why didn’t you just not answer the question?”

The president raised his voice and peculiarly began to speak in the third person.

“There’s no reason for you to have said this!” he said, according to the book. “You must hate Trump!”

With OANN in the background, Trump “started yelling” and “was so angry his words came out like spit,” according to the book.

Trump then pointed to the television screen, as OANN was discussing election conspiracies that Pennsylvania backdated late-arriving ballots, as well as allegations that Fulton County, Georgia, illegally added ballots to their tally. Barr told Trump that the Justice Department reviewed the claims and found no evidence that such events occurred.

“We’ve looked into these things and they’re nonsense,” Barr said, according to the book.

After the back-and-forth, Barr reiterated to Trump that there was simply no evidence to support the most prominent allegations.

“Mr. President, I’m not up here to say there was no fraud,” the attorney general said at the time, according to the book. “There may very well have been fraud. I suspect there was fraud, maybe more than usual. But there’s no evidence of substantial fraud that would change the election, and your problem is you have five weeks. The reason you’re sitting where you are today is because you had five weeks for your lawyers to mount a strategy … whereby you can turn around the election.”

While Trump continued to act in an “explosive and crazed” manner, Barr sought to remain “calm and deliberate,” according to the book.

Nearly two weeks later, Trump announced that Barr would be departing the administration shortly before Christmas, lauding the attorney general for doing “an outstanding job.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump told DOJ officials to ‘just say that the election was corrupt’ and ‘leave the rest to me,’ new documents show

Trump thanksgiving White House
  • Trump pressured the top two DOJ officials to call the 2020 election “corrupt” without evidence, The New York Times reported.
  • “Just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me,” Trump told the officials.
  • They told Trump “much of the info you’re getting is false,” according to one official’s notes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump pressured the top two Department of Justice (DOJ) officials in late December to publicly announce that the 2020 election was “corrupt,” despite the department’s conclusion that there was no evidence to support the claim, The New York Times reported Friday.

On December 27, Trump called then-Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his deputy, Richard Donoghue, and urged them to “just say that the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me,” according to a contemporaneous memo Donoghue wrote summarizing the conversation. The DOJ provided Donoghue’s notes to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and they were also obtained by The Times.

According to the report, Rosen and Donoghue pushed back on Trump and told him that “much of the info you’re getting is false” and that his allegations of widespread voter fraud “don’t pan out.” Donoghue went on to write that this came after the DOJ conducted “dozens of investigations” and “hundreds of interviews” related to the allegations and found no evidence of widespread election malfeasance.

Specifically, Rosen and Donoghue told Trump on the call that ballot counting errors in Michigan were a tiny fraction of what he believed, and that allegations of ballot tampering in Pennsylvania and voter fraud in Georgia weren’t supported by any evidence.

Donoghue wrote that he told Trump “DOJ can’t and won’t snap it’s fingers and change the outcome of the election, doesn’t work that way,” the report said.

But Trump resisted, saying that “nobody trusts the FBI” and many Americans are “angry” and “blaming DOJ for inaction.”

“You guys may not be following the internet the way I do,” Trump said, according to Donoghue’s notes.

Former Attorney General William Barr told reporters on December 1, more than three weeks before Trump’s phone call with Rosen and Donoghue, that “we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Barr also alluded to Trump and his allies’ repeated efforts to use the DOJ to swing the election in his favor, telling The Associated Press: “There’s a growing tendency to use the criminal justice system as sort of a default fix-all, and people don’t like something they want the Department of Justice to come in and ‘investigate.'”

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, the chairwoman of the oversight committee, said Donoghue’s notes “show that President Trump directly instructed our nation’s top law enforcement agency to take steps to overturn a free and fair election in the final days of his presidency.”

The DOJ turned Donoghue’s notes over to the committee as part of its investigation into Trump’s myriad efforts to use the levers of power to take back the White House after Joe Biden won the presidential election. Despite Trump’s continued insistence that the election was “rigged” and stolen from him, nonpartisan experts and election officials concluded that the 2020 election was the safest and most secure in US history.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A 33-year-old identity thief who bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and stole half a million dollars gets 3 years in prison

Bitcoin Cryptocurrency logos seen displayed on an Android phone with an American flag in the background
  • A 33-year old who used the dark web to steal $500,000 and buy bitcoin has been sentenced to prison.
  • Aaron Laws used burner phones and recruited accomplices to avoid detection, a Seattle court said.
  • He bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and a Rolex that cost more than $34,000.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

A “prolific identity thief” who fraudulently used credit cards, pocketed $500,000, and bought bitcoin has been sentenced to three years in prison, the US District Court in Seattle announced on Friday.

Aaron Laws of Atlanta, Georgia, the 33-year-old suspect, employed a sophisticated scheme that involved recruiting accomplices, operating digital wallets and burner phones, and using bitcoin to avoid detection, Acting US Attorney Tessa Gorman said.

“Motivated by greed, this defendant attempted to use digital advances to hide his old-fashioned fraud,” Gorman said in a statement.

“At all phases – from accessing the dark web, to loading stolen data onto digital wallets, to acquiring prepaid anonymous phones, to adopting aliases, to laundering money through anonymous cryptocurrency accounts – his operation was sophisticated and difficult to detect. But ultimately law enforcement stopped him in his tracks.”

Laws acquired credit card information from “carding websites” on the dark web to carry out his scheme, the District Court said, citing case records. Such illegal websites are used to share stolen credit card data and for criminal activity.

He stored this information on digital wallets on prepaid phones, then immediately used it to make fraudulent purchases of luxury goods and items that could be sold for cash or bitcoin, the court said. He also bought a diamond-encrusted bitcoin pendant and a Rolex watch that cost more than $34,000.

Bitcoin diamond pendent

Laws spent about $166,000 on bitcoin between February and November 2017, buying 56% of that amount in just one day – on August 23, 2017. He was arrested in October of that year, having to serve time in jail on the weekends. But he continued to commit fraud across the country, the statement said.

He “had a very complicated criminal enterprise and nothing seemed to deter him,” US District Judge Robert Lasnik said at the sentence hearing.

Laws pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft on January 31, and was ordered to make a $623,554 restitution payment.

Representatives for Aaron Laws could not be reached for comment.

Read More: These 5 stocks are ripe for a short squeeze after surging in popularity this past month, according to Fintel. 2 even have the meme-friendly appeal of AMC and GameStop.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Texas Democrats reportedly weigh leaving state to block Republican-led voting bill

Texas Democrats
Texas state Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) speaks alongside members of the Texas House Democratic Caucus and voting-rights advocates during a rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on July 8, 2021 in Austin, Texas.

  • Texas Democratic lawmakers have weighed leaving the state over the GOP election bill, per the NYT.
  • In May, Democrats were able to temporarily halt passage of the bill by denying Republicans a quorum.
  • Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has made the election overhaul a top priority this year.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Texas Democratic lawmakers are reportedly weighing a decision to leave the state to block a Republican-backed election overhaul from passing, according to The New York Times.

Individuals with knowledge of the situation told The Times that there have been talks surrounding how Democrats could leave the state to protest the new voting restrictions, but it would only be a temporary maneuver.

The lawmakers who support leaving the state have argued that the action “would bring a renewed spotlight to voting rights in Texas” and put pressure on Democrats in the US Senate to enact federal voting reforms, according to several Democratic lawmakers who spoke with The Times.

However, a contingent of Democrats oppose leaving the state, calling on members to remain at the state Capitol in Austin and battle with Republicans over the bill.

Texas House Democrats on Friday tussled with several options – leaving Texas for a month, which would prevent Republicans from having a quorum; staying in the Lone Star State and seeking amendments to weaken the bill; or allowing a vote and making a decision on how to proceed while the bill is being hashed out by the state House and Senate.

Read more: 20 sought-after female political strategists to watch as more women in the US enter politics

Texas Democratic senators on Friday filed the Barbara Jordan Fair Elections Act, named after the revered Black congresswoman who served in the US House from 1973 to 1979, which would expand access to voting, allowing for online and same-day voter registration and automatic voter registration, among other measures, according to The Dallas Morning News.

The actions come as Texas legislators enter a special session to pass the election overhaul that failed in May after House Democrats denied Republicans a quorum and temporarily halted passage of the bill.

In response to the move, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott effectively defunded the Texas legislature.

However, Texas legislators have moved to restore the funding, according to The Texas Tribune.

The Republican election overhaul modifies early voting hours, curbs the 24-7 voting centers that were popular with shift workers in last year’s presidential election, and scraps straight-ticket voting, among other rules.

The legislation could be passed as soon as Tuesday, according to The Times.

After former President Donald Trump’s loss to now-President Joe Biden, Republican legislators across the country sought to enact a wide range of voting restrictions, under pressure from the former president and conservative activists to prioritize election integrity, despite there being no verifiable evidence of mass fraud in the 2020 election.

Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, Sun Belt states that are competitive on the presidential level, have all passed controversial voting bills this year.

Last month, the Department of Justice announced that it was suing the state of Georgia over its new voting law, SB 202, citing “racially discriminatory provisions.”

“The right to vote is one of the most central rights in our democracy and protecting the right to vote for all Americans is at the core of the Civil Rights Division’s mission,” said Kristen Clarke, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will use all the tools it has available to ensure that each eligible citizen can register, cast a ballot, and have that ballot counted free from racial discrimination. Laws adopted with a racially motivated purpose, like Georgia Senate Bill 202, simply have no place in democracy today.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

A judge has ordered Elon Musk’s SpaceX to turn over documents to federal prosecutors investigating alleged hiring discrimination

Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk

  • A judge ordered Elon Musk’s SpaceX to give the DoJ its hiring records within 21 days.
  • The DoJ is investigating whether SpaceX discriminates against job applicants based on citizenship status.
  • SpaceX had repeatedly refused to comply with a DoJ subpoena asking for the documentation.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX must hand its hiring records to the Department of Justice (DoJ) for a probe into whether it discriminates against job applicants based on their citizenship status, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

SpaceX has repeatedly refused to comply with a DoJ subpoena asking for documents related to its hiring process, saying in February that authorities had given only “the flimsiest of justifications.”

The company now has 21 days to turn in the documentation, US District Judge Dolly Gee ruled.

CNBC first reported on the judgement.

Read more: These are the 5 space companies you might not know yet, but probably should

The investigation started with a complaint a job applicant filed with the Office of Immigrant and Employee Rights (IER), a division of the DoJ, in May 2020.

He was interviewed for a job at SpaceX’s internet project, Starlink, in March 2020, and alleged that it chose not to hire him after asking about his dual Austrian-Canadian citizenship status, per a DoJ court filing. He told CNBC that he wasn’t asked technical questions during the interview.

Under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, non-US citizens can work for SpaceX if they have a green card.

In a court filing, SpaceX called the case “facially nonsensical.” SpaceX said it knew about his citizenship before offering him the interview, that the interviewer was “unimpressed” by his responses to questions, and that it ultimately didn’t hire anyone for the role.

But IER said that a SpaceX hiring manager wrote on the applicant’s interview feedback sheet: “Not a US citizen which is going to make it hard.”

After a series of IER requests for documents and deadline extensions, SpaceX provided some, but not all, of the documents the IER wanted. SpaceX said providing all documents would be “unduly burdensome” and would involve submitting documents from more than 3,500 employees “from barista to rocket scientist.”

IER obtained a subpoena, which SpaceX refused to comply with. It asked authorities to modify or revoke the subpoena, arguing that it exceeded the scope of IER’s authority and wasn’t relevant to the investigation.

The authorities denied SpaceX’s request in December and ordered SpaceX to comply with the subpoena within 14 days – but SpaceX still refused to send the information. It said it had already spent more than 1,000 hours complying with IER’s requests and said the authorities had given only “the flimsiest of justifications,” calling it “the very definition of government overreach.”

In a court filing in March, a magistrate judge recommended that the district judge force SpaceX to comply with the subpoena, saying that the subpoena was relevant and enforceable. SpaceX objected to the recommendations, but Gee’s court reviewed the case for two months before making its judgement Thursday.

SpaceX, IER, and the DoJ did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment outside of normal business hours.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former Attorney General Bill Barr called Trump’s false election claims ‘bullsh–‘: book

bill barr
US Attorney General Bill Barr is pictured on October 15, 2020.

  • In a forthcoming book, the ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl chronicles the final days of the Trump administration.
  • According to the book, Bill Barr reportedly blasted Trump’s false election claims as ‘bullsh–.’
  • Mitch McConnell reportedly pleaded with Barr to speak out against Trump’s voter fraud claims.
  • Sign up for the 10 Things in Politics daily newsletter.

Former Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly blasted former President Donald Trump’s debunked election claims as “bullsh–,” according to a forthcoming book by ABC News Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl.

Barr’s response to the aftermath of the highly contentious 2020 presidential campaign was detailed in an excerpt of the book “Betrayal,” published in The Atlantic on Sunday.

The interview offers critical insight into Barr’s relationship with Trump after the election and provides a stunning look at the then-attorney general’s line of thinking regarding the former president’s false election claims.

The former attorney general, who reportedly told Karl that he foresaw a Trump election loss, knew that the former president would approach him about allegations of voter fraud.

According to Karl, Barr “wanted to be able to say that he had looked into” the allegations and prove that the claims were “unfounded.”

He added: “In addition to giving prosecutors approval to open investigations into clear and credible allegations of substantial fraud, Barr began his own, unofficial inquiry into the major claims that the president and his allies were making.”

Read more: We identified the 125 people and institutions most responsible for Donald Trump’s rise to power and his norm-busting behavior that tested the boundaries of the US government and its institutions

In an interview with Karl, Barr was incredibly blunt in his assessment of Trump’s litany of fraud allegations.

“My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told Karl. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullsh–.”

Barr reportedly told Karl that the claims of voting machines being “rigged” to switch votes from Trump to Biden were untrue.

“We realized from the beginning it was just bull—,” Barr told Karl. “It’s a counting machine, and they save everything that was counted. So you just reconcile the two. There had been no discrepancy reported anywhere, and I’m still not aware of any discrepancy.”

In the interview, Barr also detailed how then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky pleaded with him to rebuke Trump’s false election claims.

McConnell was reportedly concerned about the nationwide fallout from Trump’s allegations, as well as the effect that the complaints would have on the January 2021 Georgia US Senate runoff elections. (Then-Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler were eventually defeated by Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively.)

According to the excerpt, McConnell confirmed Barr’s account.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Department of Justice says anti-trans state laws targeting children should be thrown out

Trans rights
People take part in rally outside New York’s Stonewall Inn in 2017.

  • The DOJ issued two statements of interest in lawsuits involving the rights of transgender children.
  • The department argued that recent Arkansas laws restricting trans medical care for children violate the 14th Amendment.
  • It also said West Virginia’s law preventing trans women from playing on women’s sports teams in schools violates Title IX.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) came down against state laws restricting the rights of transgender kids, weighing in for the first time in lawsuits seeking to remove the laws.

In April, West Virginia adopted a new law prohibiting trans women from participating in interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, or club sports teams sponsored by public schools and universities.

The DOJ argued in its statement of interest that the law violates Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment which it says does “not permit West Virginia to categorically exclude transgender girls from participating in single-sex sports restricted to girls.”

Arkansas passed similar legislation as West Virginia back in April as well, but also passed a law that prevents trans children from accessing gender-affirming medical care and penalizes doctors treating trans children.

Here, the DOJ argued the law violates the Equal Protection Clause. The department said it supports a preliminary injunction to block the law from taking effect until the lawsuit ends.

A statement of interest from the DOJ is akin to an amicus filing in law where someone takes a position in a case to show support. Historically, the DOJ has used statements of interest in cases involving civil rights and liberties.

Arkansas is the only state to pass a law restricting trans children’s healthcare but isn’t the first state to attempt it: both Texas and Florida state legislatures tried and failed to enact the restrictions.

While a DOJ statement of interest can show the federal government’s opinion on a case, they don’t necessarily mean the courts will address either case any sooner. The laws in both Arkansas and West Virginia will remain intact without a preliminary injunction from a judge.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Apple told former White House counsel Don McGahn that his records were subpoenaed by DOJ in 2018: NYT

don mcgahn
Donald McGahn, lawyer and Trump advisor, exits following a meeting of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s national finance team at the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City, U.S., June 9, 2016.

  • Apple told Don McGahn last month that the DOJ subpoenaed information on an account in February 2018, according to the NYT.
  • The action occurred while McGahn was still serving under then-President Donald Trump.
  • According to the NYT, it is unclear what FBI agents were seeking, nor is it clear if McGahn was the subject of their focus.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The former White House counsel Don McGahn and his wife were reportedly among those targeted by the Justice Department with a subpoena for their account records in February 2018, while McGahn was still serving under then-President Donald Trump, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The New York Times first reported on Sunday that McGahn was informed that data from an Apple account was sought by the DOJ, but he reportedly wasn’t told what was shared with the department. The government reportedly prevented Apple from informing McGahn about the subpoena at the time, according to the Times report.

The pursuit was under a nondisclosure order until May, which would reveal that the DOJ went to a judge on several occasions to keep the subpoena under wraps during the Trump presidency.

“The disclosure that agents secretly collected data of a sitting White House counsel is striking as it comes amid a political backlash to revelations about Trump-era seizures of data of reporters and Democrats in Congress for leak investigations,” according to The Times.

It is unclear what FBI agents were seeking, nor is it clear if McGahn was the subject of their focus.

According to The Times, agents “sometimes compile a large list of phone numbers and email addresses that were in contact with a subject, and seek to identify all those people by using subpoenas to communications companies for any account information like names, computer addresses and credit card numbers associated with them” when conducting investigations.

Apple reportedly told the McGahns that it received the subpoena on Feburary 23, 2018, according to an individual familar with the matter.

The subpoena was issued by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, according to The Times.

The Justice Department appears to have obtained information on McGahn and his wife during the same month that the DOJ subpoenaed Apple to gain access to the personal information of individuals associated with the House Intelligence Committee, including for two of its Democratic members.

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, a longtime political adversary of Trump who was one of the subpoena targets, on Friday called for a thorough review of his separate matter.

“We need a full accounting of the Trump DOJ’s abuse of power targeting Congress and the press,” he tweeted.

McGahn served as White House counsel for nearly two years, from January 2017 until his resignation in October 2018. He was a key witness in the special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether Trump obstructed justice in the FBI’s Russia investigation.

This story has been updated.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Top Justice Department officials Sessions, Barr and Rosenstein all deny knowledge of secret subpoenas targeting Democratic lawmakers

Barr and Sessions
Attorney General William Barr, left, stands with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, right, following a farewell ceremony for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in the Great Hall at the Department of Justice in Washington, Thursday, May 9, 2019.

  • Former attorney generals Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr have denied knowledge of secret DoJ subpoenas.
  • The subpoenas targeted Democratic lawmakers as part of a leaks probe.
  • The DoJ has not revealed who authorized the phone records seizure, likened by critics to the tactics of authoritarian regimes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former attorney generals Jess Sessions and Bill Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein have all denied knowledge of secret subpoenas seizing the phone records of Democratic lawmakers as part of a leaks probe.

Last week it was revealed that during Donald Trump’s presidency the Justice Department used subpoenas to obtain information from Apple about at least two Democrat members of the House Intelligence Committee.

The orders targeted not just the lawmakers but their office staff and families, including one minor.

Among those whose records were seized were House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, and Rep. Chris Swalwell of California. Both were prominent critics of Trump.

The information was sought as part of a probe into who was leaking information about intelligence and investigations into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia and other national security issues to media outlets

One of the key questions is who signed off the subpoenas, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has described as an “egregious assault on our democracy” by the Trump administration.

Trump repeatedly called for political opponents to be jailed during his time in office.

The three senior Trump administration officials at the Justice Department have all denied knowledge of the subpoenas.

  • Sources close to Sessions, who served as attorney general when the subpoenas were issued in January 2018, said he was not aware of, or briefed on, the reported seizure of the phone records, reported The Daily Beast. At the time Sessions had recused himself from the DoJ’s Russia probe, and could’ve also recused himself from leaks probes relating to it.
  • Bill Barr, who was appointed by Trump to replace Sessions about a year after the subpoenas were issued also denied knowledge of the seizure of the phone records. Barr told Politico that while he was attorney general, he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case.” he added: “I never discussed the leak cases with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any of the specifics.”
  • Rod Rosenstein, who served as deputy to both Sessions and Barr before leaving the Justice Department in 2019, has also told people he had no knowledge of the subpoenas, CNN reported.

Mary McCord, who formerly headed the National Security Division, which handles leak probes, told Politico that a subpoena targeting an elected official “would be considered a sensitive matter that would need high-level approval at the department.”

John Demers, a Trump appointee, headed the National Security Division when the subpoenas were issued, and still holds the position.

“All I can say is that any investigation involving an elected official would be considered a sensitive matter that would need high-level approval at the department,” she told Politico when reached for comment.

The subpoena included a gag order preventing Apple from disclosing that the data had been seized, but that order was not renewed this year, meaning that Apple could inform the people whose data had been seized.

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz has launched an investigation into the seizure of the records from lawmakers, as well as from reporters at outlets including The Washington Post, CNN, and The New York Times.

The investigation will focus on the “DOJ’s use of subpoenas and other legal authorities”, said the Justice Department in a statement Friday.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Watergate figure John Dean described the Trump DOJ’s surveillance of House Democrats as ‘Nixon on stilts and steroids’

john dean
John Dean is seen testifying before the House Judiciary Committee hearing about Lessons from the Mueller Report on June 10, 2019.

  • John Dean described the Trump DOJ’s surveillance of Democrats as “Nixon on stilts and steroids.”
  • Dean criticized Bill Barr, alleging that the former attorney general was committed to serving Trump.
  • Rep. Adam Schiff of California has called for “a full accounting of the Trump DOJ’s abuse of power.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

John Dean, the former White House counsel under the late President Richard Nixon, on Friday described the Justice Department seizing the smartphone data of Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee as “Nixon on stilts and steroids.”

The comments came after The New York Times reported that former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr subpoenaed Apple to gain access to the records of members of the committee, after they were informed of leaks in the Trump administration.

During an appearance on CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront, Dean, who helped bring down Nixon over the Watergate scandal, said the actions of former President Donald Trump’s DOJ went further than that of his former boss.

“Nixon didn’t have that kind of Department of Justice,” he said.

Dean then remarked on how the Nixon administration handled the 1971 leak of the Pentagon Papers, the classified documents that detailed the history of the US military and political involvement in Vietnam.

“I got a call from the Oval Office the day after he learned that, and could the Department of Justice bring a criminal action for this? Called over, found out the short answer was they could, but they won’t,” Dean said. “So Nixon couldn’t use the department as he wanted to.”

Burnett asked Dean if the actions of Trump’s DOJ went “beyond what Nixon did.”

“It is beyond Nixon, yes,” Dean said. “It’s Nixon on stilts and steroids.”

Read more: The Justice Department is scrutinizing Arizona’s pro-Trump vote audit as threats of violence and political fallout loom

Dean then laced into Barr, alleging that the former attorney general was long committed to serving Trump.

“The memo he wrote to get the job says ‘I’m ready to execute your presidency like a unitary executive presidency should be,’ which means no bars hold,” he told Burnett. “And he did that. It’s quite clear he didn’t have to be told on many things.”

He added: “We now know there are countless examples of norms he was willing to break.”

The DOJ’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, said in a statement Friday that his office would investigate the incident, after receiving queries from Democratic lawmakers in Congress.

“The review will examine the Department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations,” the statement read. “If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review.”

Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California, a longtime political adversary of Trump who was one of the subpoena targets, on Friday called for a thorough review of the matter.

“We need a full accounting of the Trump DOJ’s abuse of power targeting Congress and the press,” he tweeted. “An IG investigation is just the start. The full range of the misconduct must be examined, including Barr’s efforts to protect those who lied to cover up, and go after Trump’s enemies.”

Read the original article on Business Insider