Attorney General Merrick Garland is scrambling to contain the fallout of a widening Justice Department scandal as Democratic allies and the press express outrage over revelations that his agency secretly obtained records of lawmakers, reporters and dozens of others as it carried out aggressive leak investigations during the Trump presidency.
Just three months on the job, Garland said Monday he has referred the matter to the agency’s inspector general to conduct a “thorough and independent” investigation. He’s also directed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to scrutinize the agency’s policies and procedures for obtaining records from Congress. Monaco, he said, “is already working on surfacing potentially problematic matters deserving high level review.”
Garland on Monday also met with executives from CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post to explain why the Department of Justice (DOJ) sought records from eight reporters from those outlets.
Separately, the DOJ’s top national security lawyer, John Demers, is resigning from his post amid questions about what the Trump appointee knew about the agency’s efforts to secretly obtain phone, email and other records from reporters and a pair of vocal Trump critics on the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.).
Demers’s departure, set for the end of the week, comes as Schiff and others have demanded that Garland “clean house” of any officials involved in partisan or politically motivated investigations.