The One Big Question About Trump’s DoJ Spying on Dems
With news that Donald Trump's Justice Department was targeting communications and other records from Democratic members of Congress, as well as their helpers and even family members, Apple forced metadata to be released from no fewer than two Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee and the tech giant from To reveal this, Rep. Adam Schiff called for an investigation into what he called the "terrible abuse of power".
The investigation only has to answer one question: have Republicans been targeted as well? That's it. It's the only question that really matters.
Had Republicans been targeted, depending on other facts, it could still have been a purely political investigation. But if Republicans weren't targeted, that should end the investigation, at least as far as the public is concerned. If Trump's DOJ has only targeted Democratic lawmakers, that's a politically motivated investigation - even if questionable criminal activity is ongoing.
Jeff Sessions claims he has no idea if his DOJ is snooping around Congress
Perhaps confusing, even if the investigation was politically motivated, it is legally valid as long as there is at least one likely cause for the commission of a crime. The Supreme Court has suggested since at least 1996 that an investigation motivated by a bad cause should not be invalidated if there is solid evidence of an objective violation of the law. Legally, it is okay for the police to stop only black drivers and white drivers as long as the black drivers have committed traffic violations.
It follows that Trump's DOJ could only legally justify its investigation against Democrats if they have enough evidence of criminal leaks from Democrats. Even if the DOJ had evidence that Democrats and Republicans alike commit criminal leaks, the DOJ would technically be legally entitled to investigate only Democrats. There's not much to stop a politically motivated attorney general who sees criminal activity by two parties who choose to investigate only one of them.
But legal justification is not always political and moral justification, and answers come. The Inspector General of the Ministry of Justice has announced an investigation into the subpoenas and their reasons. In addition, the DOJ is under new management, by a new president and a new working group. It's a Justice Department that will certainly be more transparent when examining the former government's investigative decisions. A Merrick Garland-led DOJ doesn't necessarily want to slander Trump. But let's be honest: The President and the AG will not be personally devastated if this badly goes back to Bill Bar and the ex-President.
But isn't that more of the same problem? If the current DOJ is more focused on the Democrats whose privacy has been intruded, isn't Biden's DOJ more likely to help those Democrats conclude that they have been targeted by Trump's DOJ?
Ideally, this is the Inspector General's purpose: an independent, impartial investigation into the reasons for the initial investigation.
The election was a few months ago, but imagine the alternative: if Trump had been elected for a second term, Apple might have shared this information with a Trump-appointed DOJ chairman. The Democrats concerned may have demanded transparency from a Trump DOJ attempting to indict them.
That is hypothetical now, but the IG's real investigation is likely to be far-reaching. For many, all they need is the answer to one question.
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