Top DOJ Nat’l Security Official Resigns Over Privacy Breach Scandal

The top national security official at the Department of Justice is resigning in the wake of the fallout over its subpoenas of the phone records of members of Congress and reporters during the Trump administration. John Demers, who’s been the head of DOJ’s national security division since 2018, plans to step down at the end of next week.

The resignation comes as Attorney General Merrick Garland announced an overhaul of DOJ’s procedures amid revelations that the agency seized Democratic lawmakers’ communication records and the furor over the DOJ’s efforts to secretly obtain phone records from reporters and lawmakers in leak investigations. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., had called on Demers the day before to testify publicly about what he knew about the subpoenas to Apple and Microsoft for information involving Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell.

The departure of Demers, who likely was briefed on decisions to subpoena phone records linked to reporters and members of Congress, was planned and is not related to the controversy, according to a DOJ official. Demers had been asked to stay on for a time by John Carlin, the No. 2 official in the deputy attorney general’s office, but it was always expected that he would leave during the summer.

From left: WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 16: Attorney General Jeff Sessions listens as President Donald J. Trump speaks during a meeting with California leaders and public officials who oppose California’s sanctuary policies in the Cabinet Room at the White House on Wednesday, May 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 13 : President Donald J. Trump listens during a meeting with First Lady Melania Trump, the President of the Republic of Colombia Ivan Duque Marquez and Mrs. Maria Ruiz Sandoval in the Oval Office at the White House on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Attorney General William Barr waits for the President at a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General at the White House, on March, 04, 2019 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Earlier on Monday, Garland said he planned on putting safeguards in place to prevent future abuses.

“Political or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions,” he said. “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.”

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