GOP Lawmakers Defend Trump's DOJ Secretly Requesting Phone Record Subpoenas Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, questions Gordon Sondland, the U.S ambassador to the European Union, during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill Nov. 20, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Samuel Corum – Pool/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Tuesday, 22 June 2021 12:46 PM
Republicans are defending former President Donald Trump's Justice Department for secretly subpoenaing Democrat lawmakers' personal data, Politico reported.
While Democrats vow to investigate the subpoenas, much of the GOP says the government should investigate leaks of classified information as long as it is within the confines of the law, Politico said.
"If you're leaking, I don't care what your motives are or who you are, you should be investigated for that — whether you're a friend of the president or not a friend of the president," Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee told Politico.
"I would hope I'd say the same thing about President [Joe] Biden. If he's investigating [Rep.] Devin Nunes[R-Calif.,] and he has reason to, then let the investigation so forward."
The New York Times first reported the leak hunt subpoenas.
The DOJ's attempt to find the source of leaks related to the probe of Trump's ties to Russia has focused on prominent figures whom the former president considered political opponents. They include House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
Even Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., no friend of Trump, is refraining from lashing out at the subpoena requests.
"It's really important for the Department of Justice to ensure that we aren't seeing leaks of classified information," Cheney told Politico.
Cheney added to Politico she supports the investigation underway by the Justice Department inspector general into the Trump DOJ's actions.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Trump’s Justice Department, under attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr, was worse than former President Richard Nixon's "enemies list."
"What the administration did, the Justice Department, the leadership of the former President, goes even beyond Richard Nixon," Pelosi told CNN last week.
Politico said Republicans want to let the Justice Department's internal watchdog finish its work. House GOP Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., last week stressed the importance of an outside decision on "whether there was any overreach," Politico said.
One of the few Republicans questioning the subpoenas is Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who himself is under the scrutiny of a federal sex trafficking investigation.
"DOJ has a very nasty tendency to target its critics, Republican and Democrat," Gaetz said in a statement earlier this month. "I stand against all of it, no matter how much I personally dislike Schiff."
Politico said no Republican lawmakers have said their data was swept up into the probe.
Stewart and Cheney were among lawmakers who insisted no president should use the powers of government strictly to go after political enemies.
House Intelligence Committee Republicans claim the committee began leaking in 2017 and continued to do so through House Democrats’ first impeachment inquiry into Trump’s contacts with Ukraine in 2019, according to Politico.
"There was literally nothing sacred in that room," former Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., of Florida, who served as a senior Republican on the panel during the Russia probe before retiring in 2018, told Politico.
The tension continued into 2019, when the GOP blamed Schiff for sweeping up phone records of Nunes during Trump's first impeachment. The California lawmaker was the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.
Politico said a committee spokesperson at the time denied investigators had subpoenaed call records for any member of Congress or reporter.