The chairman of a powerful Senate committee on Thursday demanded that Attorney General William P. Barr disclose whether the Obama-era Department of Justice hacked the computers and phones and an investigative reporter.
Sen. Ron Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, sent a letter to the attorney general asking whether the Justice Department and FBI secretly hacked Sharyl Attkisson, a former CBS reporter investigating the “Fast and Furious” scandal and the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Mr. Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said his committee has been trying to get answers about the alleged hack since 2014.
He added that recent revelations by the Justice Department’s Inspector General regarding FBI surveillance abuses have raised new questions about Ms. Attkisson’s case.
“I am especially concerned about these unresolved questions regarding the alleged surveillance of Ms. Attkisson,” Mr. Johnson wrote in the letter. “It is well past time that Ms. Attkisson, Congress and the American public receive answers to questions that remained outstanding for over 6 years.”
Ms. Attkisson filed a lawsuit against the Obama Justice Department in 2015 after noticing unusual activity with her work and personal electronic devices between 2011 and 2013, when she was investigating the administration.
She alleged in the lawsuit that two computer forensics teams identified a communications channel with an IP address linked to the U.S. Post Office “indicating unauthorized surveillance.”
The Justice Department argued that Ms. Attkisson had no evidence that former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. or ex-Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe ordered spying on her.
A federal judge dismissed the case and she pursued it to a federal appeals court, which also rejected her lawsuit.
Sen. Johnson said previous efforts by lawmakers to learn more about Ms. Atkisson’s allegations have met with resistance from the Justice Department. He said the only information available is from an “abbreviated” report by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
“To this day, however, other than the DOJ OIG’s repose, the government has successfully resisted providing any meaningful answers or insights into the matter,” he wrote.
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