WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) announced the introduction of his bill, the Inspector General Notification Act, which would require the U.S. Attorney General (AG) to notify the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) when data from a covered party – Members of Congress, Congressional staff, judges, and judicial branch employees – is collected. Specifically, Rep. Lieu’s bill requires the AG to provide notice to the IG within seven days of any case in which the metadata or contents of any communication of a covered party is subject to a subpoena, court order, or warrant. It also requires the IG to then determine whether the collection of data was sought in bad faith; and submit a report to Congress annually on the number of times data from a covered party was subject to a subpoena, court order, or warrant.
“Authoritarian governments try to silence their critics, such as journalists and elected officials, by seizing records,” Rep. Lieu said. “We are a democracy with three equal branches of government. It was highly alarming when the Trump DOJ secretly seized the data of Members of Congress under questionable motives. We cannot allow that to happen without proper oversight. That’s why I’m pleased to introduce the IG Notification Act, which will infuse transparency into the DOJ’s process of collecting data from representatives of the other branches of our government. I look forward to gaining bipartisan support on this commonsense government oversight legislation.”
Early in the Trump Administration, the DOJ began investigating who was behind leaks of classified information. During the investigation, DOJ subpoenaed communications metadata from Members of Congress, aides, and family members, one of whom was a minor. The records of at least 12 people tied to the House Intelligence Committee were seized. In its report on the DOJ investigation, the New York Times referred to these actions as a “nearly unheard of move outside of corruption investigations.” Apple, the company DOJ subpoenaed records from, reportedly turned over metadata and account information.
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