DOJ Prohibited Google from Informing Capitol Hill Staffers When They Were Being Spied Upon

New court documents reveal that the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice (DOJ) had previously secured court orders forbidding Google from letting congressional staffers know when they were being spied on by the DOJ.

According to the Daily Caller, five court orders were released on Monday after the legal group Empower Oversight filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the records in question. The DOJ had been actively monitoring the communications of all Capitol Hill staffers who were conducting oversight of the department.

Jason Foster, the founder of Empower Oversight, was one of the staffers targeted for surveillance by the DOJ in 2017.

“IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that, pursuant to l8 U.S.C. g 2705(b). Google and its employees shall not disclose the existence of the subpoena to any other person (except attorneys for Google for the purpose of receiving legal advice) for a period of one year (commencing on the date of this Order) or until further court order or whichever is sooner,” reads the September 2017 court order, which was signed by a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the District of Columbia.

The investigation by the DOJ is apparently connected to the conviction of James Wolfe, a former Director of Security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, who pleaded guilty in December of 2018 to a single count of false statements to the FBI, and was sentenced to two months in prison. The DOJ continued its efforts to spy on congressional staffers for three years after Wolfe’s conviction.

From 2019 to 2021, the DOJ managed to secure court orders forbidding the release of the 2017 subpoena for Foster’s records. Foster had served as the chief investigative counsel for Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) during his time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“The subpoena for Mr. Foster’s records raises serious public interest questions about the basis for such intrusion into the personal communications of attorneys advising congressional committees conducting oversight of DOJ,” said Empower Oversight President Tristan Leavitt after the documents were revealed. “The limited circumstances under which a court may issue an order under § 2705(b) raises the question of whether the claims [the] DOJ made to the court were true and whether those claims actually support the orders.”

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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