The Justice Department’s top national security official is resigning after the political fallout over the department’s subpoenas for records of Democrats in Congress and the media, NBC News reports.
John Demers, a Trump holdover who was appointed as the head of the DOJ’s national security division in 2018, will step down at the end of next week, a DOJ official told NBC.
The official told the outlet that the departure was planned and not related to the controversy. Demers was asked to stay on to assist new DOJ leadership but was expected to leave during the summer.
Former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr denied that they were aware of the subpoenas, which targeted the phone records of top Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, as well as reporters at the New York Times, CNN, and Washington Post.
But Demers, as the head of the national security division, is believed to have been briefed on the leak investigations.
Garland vows new safeguards:
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday vowed to that he would implement new safeguards to prevent future abuses.
"[P]olitical or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions," he said. "These principles that have long been held as sacrosanct by the DOJ career workforce will be vigorously guarded on my watch, and any failure to live up to them will be met with strict accountability."
"I have instructed the deputy attorney general, who is already working on surfacing potentially problematic matters deserving high level review, to evaluate and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for obtaining records of the Legislative branch," he continued. "Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law, we must ensure that full weight is accorded to separation-of-powers concerns moving forward, and any failure to live up to them will be met with strict accountability."
Dems want ex-AGs to testify:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led Democratic calls for Barr and Sessions to testify to Congress about the seizures of data.
"To say that they didn't know anything about it is beyond belief,” Pelosi told CNN. “We will have to have them come under oath to testify about that."
"How could it be that there could be an investigation of members in the other branch of government and the press and the rest too and the attorneys general did not know?" she questioned. "So who are these people and are they still in the Justice Department?"
Pelosi added that “Richard Nixon had an enemies list” but the DOJ targeting members of Congress “goes even beyond Richard Nixon.”