Media Contacts: Jake Laperruque, Senior Counsel for The Constitution Project at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), [email protected]; or Caitlin MacNeal, Communications manager at POGO, [email protected]
(WASHINGTON)—We are deeply disturbed by the report that the Justice Department under President Donald Trump surveilled two House members, their staff, and members of their families. This is a serious issue and requires immediate further scrutiny.
Political surveillance is a fundamental danger to democracy, and this type of collection creates serious risk of persecuting or chilling political opposition and may violate the Constitution. While we still need to know much more about this probe, it’s incredibly troubling that sensitive communications records were seized using grand jury subpoenas—which require no suspicion or evidence of wrongdoing—and that gag orders were deployed to cover this up for years.
Both Congress and the Justice Department inspector general should launch investigations, and the DOJ should immediately release all relevant documents and disclose any other instances of surveillance of political opponents or critics of then-President Trump.
Legislators must also consider stronger safeguards when it comes to the collection of metadata and the use of gag orders.
“This abuse of Justice Department powers to go after congressional investigators of the opposing party is disturbing and dangerous. We've seen how much harm this kind of politicized probe can cause from past abuses under J. Edgar Hoover. This episode should serve as a wake-up call for Congress and prompt stricter safeguards to prevent future abuses,” said Jake Laperruque, senior counsel for The Constitution Project at POGO. “We must get to the bottom of this and hold accountable those who overstepped.”
Founded in 1981, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that investigates and exposes waste, corruption, abuse of power, and when the government fails to serve the public or silences those who report wrongdoing.
We champion reforms to achieve a more effective, ethical, and accountable federal government that safeguards constitutional principles.