During the presidency of Donald Trump (2017-2021), the Department of Justice of the United States asked Apple personal data of two Democratic legislators of the Intelligence Committee of the House of Representatives, as well as their employees and family members. The objective was to investigate the origin of the leaks to the press about the contacts between the then president and the Kremlin, as reported on Thursday The New York Times.
One of the congressmen affected by the metadata requirements of their communications was Adam Schiff, Trump's serious rival, according to the New York newspaper. Schiff was then the main Democrat of the committee, which he has chaired since January 2019. Lawmaker Eric Swalwell, who participated in the Democratic primaries for the White House, has confirmed to CNN that he was the second affected. “I received a notification … from Apple that my records were seized. It's wrong, ”he said.
According to the newspaper, officials who worked for Attorney General Jeff Sessions required the documents from Apple in February 2018 through a secret order, which was renewed three times until it expired in 2021. It was then that the apple company informed those affected that their metadata had been seized by the Department of Justice.
Department workers obtained electronic records not only from legislators, but also from their employees and relatives, including a minor, possibly because investigators believed that the congressmen were using the devices of their relatives or children to hide contacts with journalists.
The objective of the Trump administration was to investigate where the abundant leaks to the media about the contacts of the then president's environment with the Kremlin came from. According to him Times, the mechanism used has no known precedents. As part of the same investigation, the department headed by Sessions also requested information from journalists to try to find out their sources, as recently published by CNN, The New York Times Y The Washington Post.
Finally, none of the data or other evidence linked the members of the Intelligence Committee to the leaks, says the Times. Schiff, who has not confirmed that it was a target of the investigation, asked the Justice Department inspector general to review "this and other cases."
In a statement, the congressman said that Trump "tried to use the Department as a club against his political opponents and members of the media." The Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, has also called for an investigation and has called the discovery of The New York Times as "hideous". "These actions appear to be another heinous attack on our democracy by the former president," he said in a statement.
The Lower House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Schiff, was one of those that led the investigations into Trump's alleged ties to the Kremlin and later into his contacts with Ukraine, which led to the first impeachment against the then president.