The Justice Department subpoenaed and seized data from Apple and another Internet service provider on the communications of at least two Democratic members of Congress in 2017 and 2018, The New York Times reports.
The Democrats were both on the House Intelligence Committee and one of them, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), was its chairman; the other was not identified in the report. Donald Trump’s administration took an extraordinary step by investigating leaks of classified information early in his tenure.
Federal officials have even gone so far as to subpoena the iPhone maker to obtain communications data on aides and family members of the two Democrats, including a minor. In short, according to the Time, the DOJ under two attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William Barr requisitioned data on a dozen people linked to the Democrats on the committee.
Metadata on committee members’ communications would not have linked them to leaks. Apple did not send information about the content of communications such as photos, emails or text messages, only metadata and account information, the Time reports. The Department of Justice made no statement.
Schiff said in a statement: “The politicization of the department and attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous attacks on our democracy carried out by the former president.”
The DOJ reportedly notified Schiff in May that the investigation was over. He asked the department’s inspector general to investigate the case, and House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed his statements.
The investigations themselves have focused on leaks of classified information about conversations between Trump’s aides and the Russian ambassador to the United States as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
The news follows weeks of revelations about the Justice Department’s efforts to spy on phone records from journalists from several news outlets, legal offensives involving gagging against outlet executives as well as Google and Apple. .
The orders prohibited executives from disclosing the leak probes to their newsrooms. The DOJ under Trump and Joe Biden has engaged in a lengthy legal battle to obtain email and phone tapes of reporters for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN, although the Biden administration eventually pulled it and Biden called the practice “just, just plain bogus.” Time Editor-in-chief Dean Baquet said the incursion “deeply undermines press freedom”.
– Sam Brodey contributed reporting
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