- The Washington Times - Friday, June 11, 2021

The Trump Justice Department requested metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses in February 2018 as part of its leak investigation into lawmakers, staffers and their families, Apple said in a statement late Friday.

Apple said the subpoena was issued by a federal grand jury and included a gag order from a federal judge barring the tech giant from telling targets of the subpoena about the data request.

Apple added that the request “provided no information about the nature of the investigation and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through the users’ accounts.”

“Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures,” the statement said.

The nondisclosure was extended three times, each lasting a year, according to CNN. Apple notified the subpoena targets last month when the order was not extended a fourth time.

Also late Friday, Microsoft said it received a 2017 subpoena related to a congressional staffer’s personal email account, but was also barred from notifying the staffer until more than two years after the data request.

“As soon as the gag order expired, we notified the customer who told us they were a congressional staffer,” the company said in a statement. “We then provided a briefing to the representative’s staff following that notice. We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this.”

The statements come one day after it was revealed that the Justice Department had issued grand jury subpoenas to at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

At the time of the subpoenas, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions was trying to uncover the source of leaks about contacts between President Trump’s campaign associates and Russia.

Former Attorney General William P. Barr revived the investigation when he replaced Mr. Sessions in 2019. He ordered a federal prosecutor from New Jersey to work on the cases.

Mr. Barr told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that he didn’t recall the subpoenas.

“Whatever steps were taken, were before I arrived,” he said.

The Justice Department inspector general announced Friday he would open an investigation into the decision to subpoena Apple for the data. 

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide