A former Senate investigator recently revealed that the Department of Justice (DOJ) tried to ask a federal court to cover up its efforts to spy on Congress for five years straight.
Just The News reports that Jason Foster, the former chief investigative counsel for Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on the Senate Judiciary Committee, came forward on Tuesday with his revelations. Foster, who now leads the Empower Oversight center for whistleblowers, said that lawyers with Google provided him with documents confirming that the DOJ asked a federal judge to delay notifying him that his own data had been subpoenaed in a federal leaks investigation; these requests continued for five consecutive years.
The first seizure of Foster’s personal data took place in 2017. Under the original court order, the DOJ would have had to notify him of the seizure one year later. However, the DOJ asked for the court’s approval ex parte to keep this information secret year after year; Foster was only finally informed of the subpoena earlier this fall, six years later.
Ex parte is an action before the court that is granted on the request of, and to the benefit of, only one party in the case. It is the only judicial exception to the basic rule of the courtroom where both parties must be present before a judge during an argument.
“They (Google) provided me the notifications that they got from the from the court,” Foster explained, “signed by magistrate judges showing that for five of the six years,” non-disclosure orders were approved by the court after being requested by the DOJ.
“These are orders from the court that says to Google, you’re not allowed to tell Jason or anybody else, any of his Democrat and Republican colleagues whose information. whose phone records and text records you saw, you’re not allowed to tell them that we subpoenaed those records or that you gave them up,” Foster continued. “That was in the initial request that was for a one year timeframe. And then they renewed it every year, in September or August of every year, for the next five years.”
Foster is one of roughly a dozen Republican staffers and members of Congress who have been notified recently that they were being actively spied upon by the DOJ. Investigations have since been launched by both the DOJ Inspector General and the House Judiciary Committee, seeking to determine if this surveillance was in violation of the Constitution’s separation of powers clause. In addition, a civil rights lawsuit has been filed by Kash Patel, a former House Intelligence Committee Lawyer who worked for then-Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.).