One of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) highest-ranking officials is reportedly stepping down, The Daily Caller reported on Monday.
John Demers, the DOJ’s number one national security official, will officially step down beginning next week, according to The Associated Press.
He is slated to be replaced by Mark Lesko who currently presides as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
DOJ data seizures
Demers’ departure comes amid reports that the DOJ employed data seizures and gag orders against reporters and elected officials as part of a campaign to investigate leaks of classified information during the Trump administration.
The Daily Caller noted that included among the alleged targets were Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, two California Democrats who sit on the House Intelligence Committee.
According to a report from The New York Times, DOJ subpoenas were served on Apple in order to obtain information about both men. What’s more, the company was prohibited via gag order from notifying them.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has demanded that Demers appear before Congress and has threatened to subpoena him if refuses to appear voluntarily, the AP reported.
AG Garland promises an investigation
In a statement on Monday, Biden Attorney General Merrick Garland promised that “a thorough and independent investigation” would be forthcoming on the matter, adding that “political or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions.”
“These principles that have long been held as sacrosanct by the DOJ career workforce will be vigorously guarded on my watch, and any failure to live up to them will be met with strict accountability,” Garland continued. “There are important questions that must be resolved in connection with an effort by the department to obtain records related to Members of Congress and Congressional staff.”
Garland concluded by pledging, “If at any time as the investigation proceeds action related to the matter in question is warranted, I will not hesitate to move swiftly.”
Former Trump Attorney General William Barr has denied any knowledge of the data seizures, saying that while he was attorney general, he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case,” according to Politico.
Barr also said that Trump did not instruct him to target Democratic lawmakers regarding the leaking of classified information. Trump “was not aware of who we were looking at in any of the cases,” Barr said. “I never discussed the leak cases with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any of the specifics.”