Trump-appointee John Demers, the head of the Dept. of Justice's National Security Division and one of the officials who was involved in the spying on Democratic lawmakers in Congress is expected to step down at the end of next week.
The New York Times reports "prosecutors supervised by Mr. Demers seized the records of reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN and of top House Democrats while investigating leaks of classified information. The department's inspector general announced an investigation on Friday into the matter."
But the Times makes clear spying on Democratic lawmakers, at least two, plus their staffs, family members, and even a minor child – or at least the gag order on that spying – required sign-off by the Attorney General.
"While it is common for the Justice Department to try to find out who shared classified information with the media, it is highly unusual to secretly gather records from the press and lawmakers. The prosecutors also prevented the lawyers and executives of The Times and CNN from disclosing that records had been taken, even to their newsroom leaders, another highly aggressive step," the Times notes.
"Such moves require signoff by the attorney general. But Mr. Demers and his top counterintelligence deputies in the division would typically be briefed and updated on those efforts."
Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has demanded Demers, whose official title is Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division, testify.
The Times claims that Demers' departure "was arranged months ago but now comes amid widespread backlash over investigations into leaks of classified information that began under the Trump administration."
This is a breaking news and developing story.