The Department of Justice (DOJ) under former President Trump secretly obtained Democratic lawmakers’ communications data, and similar info on former White House Counsel Don McGahn, as well as those of reporters from prominent publications. The move appears tied to Trump-era investigations into congressional leaks from early in his presidency.
The revelation sparked a fierce backlash from Capitol Hill and Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee launched a probe this week and are threatening to subpoena former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions if they don’t testify voluntarily. But that effort faces a significant GOP roadblock as Republicans are signaling they will block any effort to compel documents or testimony from potential witnesses.
The hurdle for Democrats spins out of their narrow 50-50 majority, which determines the party breakdown on Senate panels.
Top Republicans are pouring cold water on the Democratic investigation, underscoring the heavy-lift Durbin and members of his caucus face to get bipartisan support to add teeth to the investigation.
Explaining his opposition to any congressional probes, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called any probe by House and Senate Democrats to investigate a “witch hunt in the making.”
“It’s particularly disappointing that our colleagues have taken to attacking former Attorney General Bill Barr over investigative decisions that predated his time at the Department of Justice. Attorney General Barr served our nation with honor and integrity,” McConnell said.
“These latest attempts to tarnish his name bear the telltale signs of a witch hunt in the making,” he added, according to The Hill.
However, Democrats have other options if they hit roadblocks in the Judiciary Committee. The House Judiciary Committee is vowing to move forward with its own investigation.
“The House Judiciary Committee will investigate the Trump Administration’s surveillance of Members of Congress, the news media, and others. I have instructed my staff to begin that work without delay,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced this week.
Unlike their Senate counterpart, they wouldn’t need GOP support to pursue their own high-profile investigation.