Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for Dems data, Adam Schiff says 'shocked, not surprised'
The announcement comes after a flurry of stories about the DOJ secretly collecting records from CNN and The Washington Post journalists
Prosecutors from the Trump administration's Justice Department had reportedly subpoenaed Apple in 2018 as part of a leak probe, seeking data from the accounts of at least two House Intelligence Committee Democrats, including Chairman Adam Schiff, as well as their employees and family members, which included a minor.
Another Democrat on the committee, Rep Eric Swalwell of California, told news outlets in an interview on Thursday, June 10, that his data had been confiscated as part of the investigation. The prosecutors were looking for sources behind news stories regarding ties between Russia and Trump associates.
According to a source familiar with the situation, the FBI first sent a subpoena to Apple in February 2018, when records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized, including that of Schiff. It contained a gag order, due to which Apple was unable to tell anyone until it expired this year, and the Justice Department decided to reveal the subpoenas and gag orders to the press.
Apple originally told those who were subject to subpoenas in May that the Justice Department had issued grand jury subpoenas for their material in February 2018, according to a House Intel committee official, reported The New York Times. According to the news outlet, prosecutors under Jeff Sessions, Trump's first attorney general, were looking for the sources behind media claims regarding Trump associates' interactions with Russia.
"Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead-end and some even discussed closing the inquiry," the paper said. According to the NYT, Apple only sent over metadata and account information, not images, emails or other content.
The subpoenas are the most recent example of the Trump administration's draconian approach to leak investigations. The announcement comes after a flurry of stories about the Justice Department secretly collecting records from journalists, including CNN's Barbara Starr and reporters from The Washington Post and other outlets.
While the data did not link the committee to the leaks during then-attorney general Jeff Sessions' tenure, when William Barr became attorney general the following year, he moved a prosecutor from New Jersey to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and others, according to three people familiar with his work. A Justice Department official, an Apple official, and Barr all declined to comment to the New York Times.
Schiff 'shocked, but not surprised'
Adam Schiff, in a statement Thursday evening, said: "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. Though we were informed by the Department in May that this investigation is closed, I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president.".
When asked about how he felt when he learned he was targeted by the US government, Schiff said that he was "shocked on the one hand and not surprised on the other". On the question of the number of accounts seized by CNN's Chris Cuomo, Schiff indicated he wasn't sure. "It wouldn't surprise me if it was an extraordinary number because just the circle that I am aware of was so overbroad that they clearly were not discriminating. They were simply fishing," he added.
"Trump repeatedly demanded the DOJ go after his political enemies. It's clear his demands didn't fall on deaf ears. This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump's corrupt weaponization of justice. And how much he imperiled our democracy," Schiff wrote on Twitter.
Trump repeatedly demanded the DOJ go after his political enemies.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 11, 2021
It's clear his demands didn't fall on deaf ears.
This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump's corrupt weaponization of justice.
And how much he imperiled our democracy.
Others took to Twitter to share their views. "Let's be clear about this. When a firm like Apple receives a subpoena for data as in the case of Schiff, et al., they either have to comply or show grounds (like an overly broad demand) that the demand is not valid. And this includes much data that is not encrypted," said a Twitter user. "This is a holy sh*t story. The long tail of Trump-era Justice politicization continues," said another. "I don't believe for a second that this was a "leak investigation."
Let's be clear about this. When a firm like Apple receives a subpoena for data as in the case of Schiff, et al., they either have to comply or show grounds (like an overly broad demand) that the demand is not valid. And this includes much data that is not encrypted.— Lauren Weinstein (@laurenweinstein) June 11, 2021
This is a holy sh*t story. The long tail of Trump-era Justice politicization continues. https://t.co/9emT8Uo20A— Nick Confessore (@nickconfessore) June 11, 2021