The Department of Justice during the presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021) asked Apple personal data of two Democratic legislators of the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, as well as their employees and relatives, in order to investigate the leaks to the press as reported this Thursday The New York Times.
The communications metadata requirements affected Congressman Adam Schiff, a strong rival of Trump who was then the main Democrat of the committee and now chairs it, the New York newspaper notes. Lawmaker Eric Swalwell, who participated in the Democratic primaries for the White House, has confirmed to CNN that he was the second affected. “I got a notification … from Apple that they seized my records. It’s wrong, ”he said.
According to the newspaper, officials who worked for Attorney General Jeff Sessions required the documents from Apple in February 2018 through a secret order, which was renewed three times until it expired in 2021. It was then that the apple company informed those affected that their mega data had been seized by the Department of Justice.
Department officials obtained electronic records not only from legislators, but also from their employees and family members, including a minor, possibly because investigators believed that the congressmen were using the devices of their relatives or children to hide contacts with journalists.
The objective of the Trump administration was to investigate where the abundant leaks to the media about the contacts of the then president’s environment with the Kremlin came from. According to the Times, the mechanism used has no known precedent. In the framework of the same investigation, the Department led by Sessions also required information from journalists to try to find out their sources, as CNN recently informed, The New York Times Y The Washington Post.
Ultimately, none of the data or other evidence linked the Intelligence Committee members to the leaks, the Times claims. Schiff, who has not confirmed that it was a target of the investigation, asked the Justice Department inspector general to review “this and other cases.”
Trump “attempted to use the Department as a club against his political opponents and members of the media,” Schiff said in a statement. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has also called for an investigation and called the discovery of The New York Times as “hideous”. “These actions appear to be another heinous attack on our democracy by the former president,” he said in a statement.
The Lower House Intelligence Committee chaired by Schiff was one of those that led the investigations into Trump’s alleged ties to the Kremlin and later into his contacts with Ukraine that led to the first impeachment against him.