(AP) — The Justice Department
's top national security official is resigning after it was revealed that the department secretly seized records from Democrats and members of the media
A Justice Department official told The Associated Press
on Monday that John Demers will leave his position by the end of next week because he cannot discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The resignation comes amid questions about what Demers knew about the Justice Department's secret efforts to seize phone data from House Democrats
and reporters as part of the aggressive leak investigations.
Demers, who was sworn in a few weeks after the Democrats' records were subpoenaed, is a Trump appointee who has remained in the Biden administration
, and one of the few remaining Trump appointees.
The Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple
for metadata from House Intelligence Committee
Chairman Adam Schiff
and another Democratic
member of the panel, California
Rep. Eric Swalwell
, in 2018, while the committee was investigating then-President Donald Trump
's ties to Russia
. Schiff was the top Democrat on the panel at the time, which was led by Republicans
After the subpoena was issued in 2018, Apple eventually shared the records of at least 12 people
connected to the House intelligence panel with the Justice Department. The people included aides, former aides, and family members, with one being a minor.
The subpoena, issued on Feb. 6, 2018, sought information on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, according to Apple, and included a non-disclosure order that barred the company from notifying any of the individuals. It was renewed three times, according to the company.
The acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York
, Mark Lesko, will take Demers' place, according to the official.
Demers has been in charge of the department's national security division since February 2018, having been sworn in just a few weeks after the subpoena was issued to Apple for the Democrats' records, and his division has been involved in all of the leak investigations.
President Joe Biden
nominated Matt Olsen, an Uber
executive with Justice Department experience who served as director of the National Counterterrorism
Center and general counsel for the National Security Agency
, to be the next assistant attorney general for national security, but Demers has remained in place while Olsen awaits Senate
Following a request from Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department's inspector general has launched an investigation into the matter. Inspector General Michael Horowitz stated that he will investigate whether the data subpoenaed by the Justice Department and turned over by Apple followed department policy and "whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations."
Attorney General Merrick Garland
said in a statement Monday that “political or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions,” and that he expects the inspector general to conduct a thorough investigation.
“If, at any point during the investigation, action on the matter in question is warranted, I will not hesitate to act quickly,” Garland said.
“In keeping with our commitment to the rule of law
,” he said, “we must ensure that separation-of-powers concerns are given full weight moving