Source: Trump’s DOJ investigated Democrats on the Intelligence Committee

  • By Krishnadev Calamur/NPR

(Washington) — The Trump Justice Department subpoenaed Apple in 2018 in order to obtain the metadata of at least two Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, as well as their current and former staff, and even family, including a minor, according to a lawmaker and a committee official.

The subpoena, which was first reported by The New York Timeswas part of an aggressive push by the Justice Department to find the source of leaks of classified information in the early years of the Trump administration. There is no indication that the subpoenaed material tied the committee to the media leaks.

The two lawmakers who had their data seized are Rep. Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, and Rep. Eric Swalwell. Both men were outspoken critics of former President Trump, and took frequent aim at him in TV and radio appearances.

The department also secured a gag order in the case, preventing Apple from informing the committee about the subpoena. The company was only able to tell the panel after the gag order was lifted in May 2021, the committee official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The committee contacted the Biden Justice Department, which informed them that the investigation had been closed, the official said.

The Justice Department declined comment.

It is highly unusual for the Justice Department to subpoena members of Congress. If it does happen, it’s usually in connection to a corruption investigation. But the subpoena fits into the Trump Justice Department’s aggressive approach toward investigating leaks to the media.

That approach became clear recently when it emerged that the department had secretly sought to obtain phone and email records of reporters from the TimesThe Washington Post and CNN in 2020.

Schiff, the California Democrat who now chairs the House Intelligence Committee, confirmed he was informed last month by the Justice Department that an investigation into his committee had been closed.

Congressman Eric Swalwell, a California Democrat who sits on the panel, said in statement that he, too, had been notified by Apple that his data was seized.

Schiff accused Trump of repeatedly placing demands on the Justice Department to go after his political opponents and the media.

“It is increasingly apparent that those demands did not fall on deaf ears,” Schiff said in a statement. “The politicization of the Department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous assaults on our democracy carried out by the former President.”

Schiff and Swalwell both called on the Justice Department’s Inspector General to investigate.

The House Intelligence Committee conducted an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential race.

The committee was later instrumental in the impeachment inquiry into President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. Trump was ultimately impeached by the House as a result of that investigation.

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