Trump Justice Department seized data from House Democrats in leaks probe

Trump Justice Department seized data from House Democrats in leaks probe

The U.S. Justice Department under former President Donald Trump subpoenaed Apple Inc for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in an attempt to find out who was behind leaks of classified information, the New York Times reported on Thursday. Democrats called the disclosures "harrowing". But it also makes the Department of Justice just a fully owned subsidiary of the president's personal legal interests and political interests. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The Justice Department and Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The records of at least twelve people connected to the intelligence panel were eventually shared, including Chairman Adam Schiff, who was then the top Democrat on the committee. That's according to three people familiar with the seizures.

"There must be a full investigation of abuses under former Attorneys General Sessions and Barr, and anyone at DOJ who was complicit in these abuses of power can not be trusted to continue serving in government", the statement said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen.

A grand jury subpoenaed Apple for communications data belonging to people surrounding the House Intelligence Committee. The records of at least 12 people were obtained in 2017 and 2018.

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

Apple turned over only metadata and account information, not photos, emails or other content, the Times said. The Trump administration's attempt to secretly gain access to data of individual members of Congress and others related to the panel came as the president was fuming over investigations - in Congress and by then-special counsel Robert S. Mueller III - into his campaign's ties to Russian Federation.

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.

William Barr, attorney general in Trump's latter years in office, revived the investigation, it said.

The Justice Department officials targeted electronic data not only of the lawmakers, but that of their staff and families, possibly targeting a minor because investigators thought the lawmakers were using their associates' or children's devices to hide contacts with journalists.

It is unclear why Trump's Justice Department would have targeted a minor as part of the probe.

On CNN Friday, Swalwell said he "would not be surprised" if the department had gone after other members as well.

Schiff said that although the inquiry appears to be closed, there should be an internal investigation.

One of the family members targeted was a minor, the paper reported. David Laufman, a former Justice Department official who worked on leak investigations, told the Times that Trump had "an unmistakeable vendetta against Congressman Schiff", and this "raises serious questions about whether the manner in which this investigation was conducted was influenced by political considerations rather than purely legal ones".

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