The internal oversight agency of the US Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the secretive efforts of the former President Donald Trump’s administration to obtain communications data from Democrats in the US House of Representatives.
Soon after the Deputy Justice Minister Lisa Monaco made a request on Friday, Inspector General Michael Horowitz made the announcement. Horowitz said he will review whether the data submitted by Apple complies with departmental policies and whether “any such use or investigation is based on improper considerations.”
There were reports on Thursday that the Trump administration confiscated the phone data of House Democrats in 2018 as a Serious leak survey.
Democratic representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were told that the Department of Justice under Trump confiscated their metadata from Apple three years ago as a positive attack and Russia investigation Three people familiar with the matter told the Associated Press, as well as other national security matters.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement on Friday that the former attorney general William Barr And Jeff Sessions “must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee”, and if they refuse, they will be subpoenaed.
Schiff and Swowell were serving on the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff is now chairman.
Although the Department of Justice routinely investigates leaked information, including classified information, such investigations of members of Congress are very rare. These disclosures reveal that one department of the government uses its investigative and prosecution powers to monitor another department.
The records of at least 12 people associated with the intelligence team were eventually shared by the company.
According to one of the people familiar with the matter, the Justice Department obtained metadata — possibly records of phone calls, text messages, and location — but did not obtain other content from the device, such as photos, messages, or emails. Another person said that Apple complied with the subpoena and provided the information to the Department of Justice, but did not immediately notify the members of Congress or the committee of the disclosed information.
Apple notified the committee last month that the records had been shared and the investigation had ended, but did not provide extensive details. According to officials of the committee, records of assistants, former assistants and family members were also seized, one of whom was a minor.
This Secret seizure It was first reported by the “New York Times”.
As the Trump administration tried to secretly obtain data, the President was investigating publicly and privately—in Congress and at the time—Special Counsel Robert Mueller -Enter into his campaign’s relationship with Russia.
Trump called these investigations a “witch hunt.” Often criticized the Democrats and Mueller On Twitter, he has repeatedly dismissed leaks that he believes are harmful to his agenda as “fake news.”
As the investigation revolved around him, Trump repeatedly demanded the allegiance of Justice Department officials.
Schiff and Swalwell were the two most notable Democrats on the committee, led by Republicans at the time. Russia investigationBoth California lawmakers appear regularly in cable news. Trump follows these channels closely, if not obsessively, and is angry at the reports.
Officials of the committee said that the group has been seeking more information, but the Justice Department has not been candid about whether the investigation is correctly predicted and whether it is only for Democrats.
On CNN on Friday, Swalwell stated that he “would not be surprised” if the department also pursued other members. He said an internal investigation by the Ministry of Justice might reveal this. According to a fourth person familiar with the matter, the Senate Intelligence Committee has no similar goals, and he declined to be named for discussion.
There is no indication that the Justice Department used these records to prosecute anyone. In the latter part of Trump’s administration, after some information was declassified and made public, some prosecutors worried that even if they could file a case of leaks, it would be difficult to try and unlikely to be convicted. People say.
The person familiar with the matter said that federal agents interrogated at least one former committee staff member in 2020, and in the end, prosecutors were unable to verify the authenticity of the case.