GOP Senators have called for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to answer questions about the role its officials may have played in allegedly monitoring the online activity of House and Senate staffers during its investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. According to reports, the DOJ allegedly approached online service providers like Google and Apple to obtain the passwords and usernames of certain congressional staffers, allowing them to probe the staffers’ browsing and search history.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the reports “troubling” and said the DOJ needed to “immediately provide answers” about potential surveillance of Congress. He noted that the alleged actions raised questions about the “appropriate use of resources” at the DOJ and whether the Department was “operating under a lawful authority.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee of Crime and Terrorism, echoed Grassley’s statements, saying that the DOJ’s “actions could have serious implications” for the separation of powers between the branches of government. Other GOP Senators, including Ben Sasse (R-NE) and James Lankford (R-OK), also expressed their concerns about the matter and called on the DOJ to respond with clarity and openness.