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DOJ asked court to hide surveillance of congressional investigators for five years, ex-aide says


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Jason Foster says DOJ’s surveillance of Congress and its staff could have chilling effect on whistleblowers coming forward in future.


One of the Senate investigators whose personal phone and emails records were seized by the Justice Department as he was conducting congressional oversight of the agency tells Just the News he has confirmed that the government successfully asked a federal court to hide its spying on Congress for five consecutive years.

Jason Foster is now the head of the Empower Oversight whistleblower center. In 2017 at the time of the secret surveillance, he was the chief investigative counsel for Sen. Chuck Grassley on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Foster on Tuesday told Just the News that lawyers for Google have now provided him documents showing that DOJ asked a federal magistrate for five consecutive years to delay notifying him that his data had been subpoenaed in an apparent federal leaks investigation.

The seizure of his personal data occurred in 2017 while he worked for the Senate, and ordinarily under the original court order, Foster would have been notified a year later. But because the DOJ sought court approval ex parte to keep its surveillance secret, he wasn’t alerted until earlier this fall, six years after the initial subpoena. Ex parte actions are motions, hearings or orders granted on the request of and for the benefit of one party only, without notice to the other party, in this case, Foster.


This is an exception to the basic rule of court procedure that both parties must be present at any argument before a judge. 

At least a dozen Republican or Democrat members of Congress or their staff, including former House Intelligence Committee lawyer Kash Patel, also have been notified in recent months that DOJ spied on their activities.:snip:

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