Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Trump administration subpoenaed Apple for lawmakers' data

Schiff reacts to DOJ subpoena Shocked... but not surprised Trump Justice Department seized records of House Democrats as it searched for leakers: report
Cary Erickson | 11 June, 2021, 20:38

When investigating leaks of classified information during the early days of the Trump Administration, the United States Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for metadata from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, reports The New York Times. Now, a scoop by the New York Times reveals the unusual lengths to which the Trump White House went to make good on that pledge. In May, the company notified lawmakers to tell them about the leak investigation, the Times reports.

Adam Schiff chairs the House intelligence committee. California Representative Eric Swalwell was the second member, according to spokeswoman Natalie Edelstein.

A House Intelligence Committee official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the matter remains politically sensitive, said Thursday night that Apple in May had notified at least 12 people connected to the panel of subpoenas for their data, and that one minor was among them.

While the Justice Department routinely investigates leaked information, such an investigation into members of Congress is extraordinarily rare. So declared then-President Trump in 2018, notes Matt Stieb at NY.

Trump called the probes a "witch hunt", regularly criticised Schiff and other Democrats on Twitter and repeatedly dismissed as "fake news" leaks he found personally harmful to his agenda. "The politicization of the department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most unsafe assaults on our democracy carried out by the former president".

Schiff, in a statement, said the revelation was yet another example of the politicization of the Justice Department under Trump, adding that he had sought an investigation into the inquiry.

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The Justice Department informed the intelligence panel in May that the matter had not transferred to any other entity or investigative body, the committee official said, and the department confirmed that again Thursday.

While the records did not link any members of the committee to the leaks, three sources told the Times that Attorney General William Barr directed that the Schiff-related investigations continue.

The Times writes that the DOJ routinely investigates leaks, but it was "extraordinary" for the DOJ to subpoena "communications metadata from members of Congress - a almost unheard-of move outside of corruptions investigations".

Trump "tried to use the Department as a cudgel against his political opponents and members of the media".

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco made the request of the Justice Department's inspector general, a senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press.

The records belonged to members of the committee, including Rep. Adam Schiff of California, as well as their staffers and families, including one minor, The Times reported. Biden's Justice Department has vowed to end the practice. After some of the information was declassified and made public during the later years of the Trump administration, there was concern among some of the prosecutors that even if they could bring a leak case, trying it would be hard and a conviction would be unlikely, one of the people said.