House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff call for probe
By Siobhan Hughes and Sadie Gurman – The Wall Street Journal.
WASHINGTON—The Justice Department during the Trump administration sought records from Apple Inc. relating to communications by House Intelligence Committee members as well as some of their aides and family members, a committee official said.
Apple in May notified individuals associated with the committee that the Justice Department had issued grand-jury subpoenas for their information in February 2018, the official said.
The committee immediately contacted the Justice Department for clarification and additional information, the official said, adding that the department informed the committee last month that the matter had been closed.
In 2018, Trump administration officials had complained about leaks to the media regarding alleged ties between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, both California Democrats, called for an investigation into the Justice Department’s pursuit of the communications data, first reported by the New York Times. It reported that the records of at least a dozen people connected to the panel in 2017 and early 2018, including Mr. Schiff’s, were seized in the probe.
At the time of the subpoenas, then-President Donald Trump and officials in his administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, were trying to locate the source of leaks about contacts between Russia and figures in Mr. Trump’s 2016 election campaign. Mr. Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr, renewed the leak investigations after taking office in 2019, directing a federal prosecutor from New Jersey to work on about a half-dozen cases, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Mr. Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation, declined to comment. Mr. Barr also declined to discuss any subpoenas of lawmakers’ communications records.
Mr. Schiff, who was the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee in 2018 and became chairman in 2019, told CNN that the Justice Department’s actions in the matter should be the subject of an internal Justice Department investigation.
“President Trump repeatedly and flagrantly demanded that the Department of Justice carry out his political will, and tried to use the Department as a cudgel against his political opponents and members of the media,” Mr. Schiff said in a statement. “It is increasingly apparent that those demands did not fall on deaf ears.”
Mrs. Pelosi endorsed the call for an investigation into what she referred to as “this situation and other acts of the weaponization of law enforcement by the former president.”
Thursday’s reports follow earlier revelations that the Justice Department under Mr. Barr subpoenaed the records of reporters at several news organizations including the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN.
The Justice Department, which has said it would no longer seek records of reporters’ contacts when investigating government leaks of sensitive information, declined to comment.
The House Intelligence Committee has continued to seek additional information from the Justice Department, the official said, adding that “DOJ has not been forthcoming in a timely manner, including on questions such as whether the investigation was properly predicated and whether it only targeted Democrats.”