In late 2022, pursuant to its internal policy, Google informed two customers about law enforcement action taken against them by the Department of Justice five years prior. The customers in question: Republican staffers working for then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. According to contemporaneous reports, authorities subpoenaed addresses, screen names, telephone and payment records, and “all customer and subscriber account information” related to the two staffers. What’s more, as the Wall Street Journal editorial board recently pointed out, this was apparently done without informing Congress, as is typical practice.
One of the targeted staffers was Kash Patel, who at the time served as senior counsel to the House Intel Committee. Given the Committee’s focus at the time – looking into the origins of the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – some dot-connecting might well be warranted.
What truly shocks the conscience, however, is that Justice would clandestinely spy on Congress in the first place. As the Wall Street Journal wrote, “If DOJ used its law enforcement tools to snoop on Mr. Nunes, that would be an abuse of power.”
Now, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan has issued a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding answers. All who care about data privacy – and the integrity of congressional authority – deserve them.