The Justice Department’s internal watchdog has launched an investigation into the efforts of former President Donald Trump’s administration to secretly seize Democrats ’communications data in the House of Representatives. United States.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s announcement came shortly after Deputy Director General Lisa Monaco made the request Friday. Horowitz said he will examine whether the data transmitted by Apple follows the department’s policy and “whether such uses, or investigations, were based on improper considerations.”
Reports had emerged Thursday that the Trump administration took the phone data from the House Democrats in 2018 as part of a aggressive filters investigation.
Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell have been warned that the Justice Department under Trump took its metadata from Apple three years ago as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the investigation in Russia and other national security issues, according to three people familiar with the crises who spoke to the Associated Press news agency.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said Friday in a statement that the former Attorney General William Barr and Jeff Sessions “must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee” and are subject to a subpoena if they refuse.
Schiff and Swalwell were members of the House Intelligence Committee at the time. Schiff is now the president.
While the Department of Justice routinely conducts investigations into leaked information, including classified intelligence, the opening of such an investigation to members of Congress is extraordinarily rare. The disclosures reveal a branch of government that uses its powers of investigation and prosecution to spy on another.
The records of at least 12 people connected to the intelligence panel were eventually shared by the company.
The Justice Department obtained metadata – probably call logs, texts and locations – but no other content from the devices, such as photos, messages or emails, according to one of the people. Another said Apple complied with the citation, providing the information to the Justice Department, and did not immediately inform members of Congress or committees about the disclosure.
Apple informed the committee last month that the records had been shared and that the investigation had been closed, but did not give much details. Also the records of assistants, former assistants and family members were confiscated, according to one of the minors, according to the commissioner.
U secret attacks were reported for the first time by the New York Times.
The Trump administration’s attempt to secretly gain access to data came when the president smoked publicly and privately about investigations – in Congress and since then –special counsel Robert Mueller – in the links of his campaign with Russia.
Trump called the polls a “witch hunt.” regularly criticized the Democrats and Mueller on Twitter and repeatedly dismissed as “false news” leaks he found harmful to his agenda.
As investigations revolved around him, Trump repeatedly demanded loyalty from Justice Department officials.
Schiff and Swalwell were two of the most visible Democrats on the committee, then led by Republicans, during the Probe of Russia. The two California lawmakers have made frequent appearances on cable news. Trump has been watching these channels closely, if not obsessively, and has slipped on the cover.
The committee official said the panel continued to seek additional information, but the Justice Department has not been released on questions as to whether the investigation was properly based and whether it was focused. only on Democrats.
On CNN Friday, Swalwell said he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the department went even further with other members. He said an internal investigation by the Justice Department could find that. According to a fourth person who was aware of the probe and who gave anonymity to discuss it, the Senate Intelligence Committee had not been assigned in a similar way.
There is no indication that the Department of Justice used the records to prosecute anyone. After some information was declassified and made public during the last years of the Trump administration, some prosecutors were concerned that even if they could bring an escape case, trying it would be difficult and a conviction would be unlikely, one of and the people said.
Federal agents have questioned at least one former committee staff member by 2020, the person said, and in the end, prosecutors were unable to justify a case.