Dems demand Trump officials testify on reported records seizure

The U.S. Justice Department's internal watchdog will investigate efforts by the department during former President Donald Trump's administration to seize communications data of House Democrats, according to a DOJ official.

And - top Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Friday called on former Attorney Generals Jeff Sessions and William Barr to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath.

THIS - after the New York Times reported the Justice Department, under Trump, subpoenaed Apple for data of at least two Democrats on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, in an attempt to find out who was behind leaks of classified information.

Schumer, in a Tweet, called the news 'A gross abuse of power' and 'an assault on the separation of powers.'

The White House on Friday denounced the reported actions on Democrats' phone records.

The Times on Thursday reported that the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018.

That included lawmaker Adam Schiff, who was at the time the panel’s top Democrat… and who, in a 2020 trial, laid out the case for Trump’s impeachment.

Prosecutors under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions were seeking to find the sources behind media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia, according to the Times… which reported that Apple did hand over metadata and account information, but not photos, emails or other content.

The paper - which cited unnamed committee officials among the sources - said (quote) "Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry.”

But - William Barr, attorney general in Trump's latter years in office, revived the investigation, the Times said.

The DOJ and Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Schiff - in a statement to Reuters - said the DOJ had informed the committee last month that the investigation was closed.

He said (quote) "I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president.”