According to the NY Times, Justice Department prosecutors seized data from Apple on two Democratic lawmakers.
The New York Times reported Thursday that United States Justice Department prosecutors under former President Donald Trump confiscated data on two Democratic lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee, as well as their staff and family members.
The newspaper said the summons for communications metadata targeted Congressman Adam Schiff of California, an enemy of Trump, the panel’s top Democrat at the time and now its chairman.
Record seizures occurred in 2017 and early 2018, according to the newspaper, as the department investigated leaks of classified information related to contacts between the Trump administration and the Russian government.
Trump has repeatedly called on the DOJ to go after his political enemies.
It is clear that their demands did not fall on deaf ears.
This baseless investigation, while now closed, is another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice.
And how much damage did they do to our democracy.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 11, 2021
Congressman Eric Swalwell told CNN on Thursday that he was the second Democratic lawmaker on the committee to be targeted.
“I was informed by Apple that they have confiscated my records. This is false,” he said.
The newspaper reported that one of the targeted family members was a minor.
According to the Times, prosecutors working under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions made unusual efforts to find the source of the leaked classified information.
Justice Department officials not only targeted the electronic data of legislators, but their employees and families, possibly targeting a minor because investigators thought legislators were using the devices of their aides or children to hide contacts with journalists. Huh.
Like many of the world’s most despicable dictators, former President Trump showed an absolute disdain for our democracy and the rule of law. My statement: pic.twitter.com/Pvvb1xYiLn
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) June 11, 2021
The Justice Department and Apple have yet to comment on the report.
Ultimately, no data or other evidence linked the leaks to legislators or the House Intelligence Committee, the Times said.
But a year later Attorney General Bill Barr resumed the investigation into the leaks, the newspaper reported.
The seizure of such records is rarely seen outside of corruption investigations.
‘The Armament of Law Enforcement’
Schiff, not confirming that he was the target of the investigation, called for an investigation by the Justice Department Inspector General “in this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president”.
Trump “tried to use the department against his political opponents and members of the media. It is becoming increasingly clear that those demands did not fall on deaf ears,” Schiff said in a statement.
Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi also called for an investigation, calling the New York Times report “tragic.”
“These actions appear to be another serious attack on our democracy by the former president,” he said in a statement.
According to the paper, the Justice Department placed a gag order on Apple that expired this year, meaning legislators were unaware of the investigation until the tech giant notified them last month.
Schiff, who led the Democratic prosecutor team during Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial in early 2020, has long called him “dangerous” against the former president.
He made the case for Trump’s removal in early 2020 for abuse of power and obstructing Congress. Trump was later acquitted. He was later impeached by the House and acquitted by the Senate for his alleged role in instigating the rioters who stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.