Justice Department prosecutors subpoenaed tech giant Apple for the data from the accounts of two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, including Chairman Adam B. Schiff, as part of its investigation into leaks of classified information, one lawmaker said Thursday evening.
Rep. Eric Swalwell, California Democrat, told CNN that he had been notified by Apple that his data had been seized as part of the probe.
He said records of family members and a minor had been obtained.
“I do know that to be true,” he said. “And I believe they were targeted punitively not for any reason in law but because Donald Trump identified Chairman Schiff and members of the committee as an enemy of his.”
The New York Times, which first reported the story, said the data of at least a dozen people connected to the committee were seized, including committee aides and family members.
Prosecutors were said to be looking at the leaks of information related to contacts between aides to former President Trump and Russia during the early days of the administration, The Times reported.
Data obtained did not show the committee was responsible for the leaks, according to The Times. However, former Attorney General William P. Barr revived the investigation tapping a New Jersey prosecutor to investigate Mr. Schiff, California Democrat, and others.
In a 2018 interview with The Washington Times, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the epidemic of government workers leaking information to the media was fueled by animosity toward Mr. Trump.
“My view when I came here was that there was way too much leaking, but it really seemed to accelerate when President Trump became president,” he said at the time.
Leaks dogged Mr. Trump even before he took office, with the salacious and uncorroborated Steele dossier and secret information about his national security adviser leaking before Inauguration Day.
Democrats say the investigation was another overreach by the Trump administration and an attempt to weaponize the Justice Department against his political enemies.
“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,” Mr. Schiff said in a statement.
Mr. Schiff called for the Justice Department inspector general to probe the incident.
In a joint statement, Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York, and fellow Democrat Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durban of Illinois, demanded that Mr. Trump’s two attorneys general appear before Congress and explain themselves — under oath.
“Former Attorneys General Barr and Sessions and other officials who were involved must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee under oath,” the statement said. “If they refuse, they are subject to being subpoenaed and compelled to testify under oath. In addition, the Justice Department must provide information and answers to the Judiciary Committee, which will vigorously investigate this abuse of power.”
Civil liberties groups also slammed the Trump Justice Department‘s actions.
“More and more revelations are coming out that make it clear the Trump administration rivaled the infamous Nixon administration for its unscrupulous spying on and persecution of its political ‘enemies.’ It is deeply disturbing to learn that Trump ordered ‘his’ Justice Department to pursue what looks like a politically motivated, unjustifiably aggressive investigation of Congress members and their families in an ostensible search for ‘leakers,” the left-leaning People for American Way said in a statement.
Sen. Ron Wyden, Oregon Democrat, also called for an investigation.
“Finally, there must be a full investigation of abuses under former Attorneys General Sessions and Barr, and anyone at DOJ who was complicit in these abuses of power cannot be trusted to continue serving in government,” he said. “The current Justice Department needs to act with much greater urgency both to reveal abuses and ensure full accountability for those responsible.”
A Justice Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Those subjected to the subpoenas were notified in May by Apple that the Justice Department had issued grand jury subpoenas in February 2018 for their information, according to multiple media reports.