(CNN) The Justice Department inspector general will investigate the department’s handling of a leak investigation of former President Donald Trump’s political enemies, which included a subpoena to collect metadata for lawmakers, staff and some family members, the office said Friday.
The request comes as Democrats from the House Intelligence Committee hold a briefing in which Chairman Adam Schiff is expected to speak with his members about what the committee has learned, a well-known source tells CNN.
The activity follows the apparent bombshell that prosecutors in the Trump administration’s Justice Department are suing Apple for data from the accounts of the House Intelligence Committee Democrats along with their staff and family members as part of a leak investigation.
Prosecutors searched for sources behind news stories about contacts between Russia and Trump staff.
Schumer and Durbin are urging former attorneys to testify
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin are urging former attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions to testify in the case.
“If they refuse, they are subject to being summoned and forced to testify under oath,” the Democrats said in a statement.
“This issue should not be biased; under the Constitution, Congress is an equal branch of government and must be protected from a senior leadership, and we expect our Republican colleagues to join us in getting to the bottom of this serious case, ”said Schumer and Durbin.
White House calls reports ‘shocking’
In the Biden administration’s first response to camera on Friday, White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield called the reports “shocking.”
“The reports about the attorney general’s behavior under Donald Trump are appalling,” Bedingfield said during an appearance on MSNBC from Cornwall, England.
Bedingfield suggested that President Joe Biden has a “very different relationship” with the Department of Justice than his predecessor, calling the Trump administration’s “abuse of power” with the department, adding that the Biden administration’s Department of Justice is “run very, very differently.”
Biden, Bedingfield said, “respects the independence of the Department of Justice, and that’s a critically important part of how he governs.”
Swalwell says Trump ‘armed’ the Justice Department
California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, whose data was seized by the Trump administration, said Trump “armed” the Department of Justice to dig into private communications.
“This is about everyday Americans who do not want to see their government enforce law enforcement against them because of their political beliefs,” Swalwell told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “Newsroom.”
To Sciutto, who was asked Friday whether he leaked classified information involving investigation, Swalwell replied, “No, never.”
Parliament is not currently in session and many members are back in their home districts across the country, so the House Committee briefing does not take place in person.
The source tells CNN that members throughout Thursday night were concerned that they might not have been aware if their information had been seized. There is also concern about what, if any, other methods the Trump administration may have used to look at political opponents.
This story breaks and will be updated.
CNN’s Betsy Klein and Manu Raju contributed to this report.