The Justice Department said on Friday it would review secret subpoenas issued under former President Donald Trump that obtained communications data from members of Congress and journalists.
Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced the internal review a day after The New York Times reported DOJ prosecutors subpoenaed Apple and another ISP in 2017 and 2018. The department searched data in the accounts of House Democrats, as well as the phone records of journalists in mainstream media, in an attempt to determine who had leaked information about Trump’s dealings with Russia.
“The review will focus on compliance with applicable Justice Department policies and procedures, and whether such use, or investigations, were based on improper considerations,” Horowitz said in a statement. “If the circumstances warrant, the OIG will look into other issues that may arise during the review. “
Under then Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ subpoenaed Apple to obtain communications metadata from at least a dozen members of the House Intelligence Committee, including Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), currently its president. The department has also reportedly sought metadata from family members of some lawmakers, one of whom was a minor.
The secret decision also included obtaining telephone tapes from journalists who worked for CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times. The DOJ got a gag order on Apple that expired this year, allowing the company to notify those whose files had been seized.
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