Democrats have demanded an investigation into reports that officials acting under the 45th President Donald Trump grasped lawmakers’ Apple account information.
According to The New York Times, prosecutors in the U.S. Justice Department under former President Donald Trump seized account data from Apple from two House Intelligence Committee members, as well as that of their staff and family members.
Congressman Adam Schiff of California, a Trump foe, now the committee’s chairman – was reportedly one of those targeted.
The justice department has reportedly requested an internal probe.
On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco required the department’s inspector general to open an internal probe, US media reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
On Friday, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco asked the department’s inspector general to open an internal investigation, US media reported, citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter.
The same day, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Judiciary Committee chairman Dick Durbin stated that former attorney generals William Barr and Jeff Sessions must prove or face a subpoena.
Democrats have announced news of the seizures and called it “harrowing” and an abuse of power.
The White House communications director, Kate Bedingfield, stated the alleged Justice Department activity demonstrated the kind of abuse of power in the former administration that urged Democratic President Joe Biden to run against Republican Trump.
Joe Biden has shown a point of marking the independence of the Justice Department, saying it supports the people, not the president.
On Friday, Barr said that while he operated the Justice Department he was “not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case.”
On Thursday night, Congressman Eric Swalwell told CNN that he was the second Democrat targeted. He affirmed that family members’ information – including a child’s – was also taken.
“I was notified… by Apple that they did seize my records. It’s wrong,” he said.
Swalwell also revealed he was scared that if Trump was re-elected president, he “may just skip the Department of Justice and its processes and just order his lieutenants to lock up his political opponents.”
According to the New York Times report, prosecutors under attorney general Jeff Sessions made efforts in 2017 and early 2018 to find the source of classified information relating to contacts between Republican President Trump associates and Russia.
Apple revealed on Friday that it got a subpoena in February 2018 requesting customer information on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, not all of which were Apple customers. It also said it limited the information provided to
The Justice Department also managed to obtain a gag order to prevent Apple from speaking to the people involved, the paper revealed. That order only expired this year, and Apple announced the targets last month.
The New York Times said that none of the data seized tied any of the Democrats, their family members to the leaks.
US intelligence agencies state that Russia worked to help Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign against Hillary Clinton. He and his campaign were later charged with intriguing Russia in this effort.
Former FBI director Robert Mueller investigated the accusations, ultimately concluding that there was no proof of a conspiracy – but there were about 10 cases when Mr. Trump could have obstructed justice.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations, accusing them of a “witch hunt”. In 2019, the Justice Department started a criminal investigation into the origins of the Mueller investigation.
During Mr. Trump’s 2019 impeachment over his contacts with Ukraine, Mr. Schiff was criticized by Republicans for releasing the phone records of one of the Republican lawmakers on the committee.
Mr. Schiff, a Democrat who had a key role in the prosecution of the former President Donald Trump, protected the release, saying that it showed that important members of Mr. Trump’s alleged plot communicated with the office of California Congressman Devin Nunes.
Republicans depicted it as a “smear campaign” and an intrusion of privacy.
Last month, various media outlets reported that justice department officials secretly got some of their journalists’ phone records in 2017. The department later announced that it would stop taking reporters’ data during leak inquiries.
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