The New York Times reported this week that former President Donald Trump's Justice Department—under the direction of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions—subpoenaed Apple for the phone data of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee. The Justice Department also seized the data of their aides and family members, including at least one minor.
According to the Times, the seizures were part of an effort to uncover the sources behind leaks regarding Trump associates' ties with Russia. Apple only turned over the metadata of the officials, and not photos or emails.
The report also details what an unprecedented move the seizures were:
"The zeal in the Trump administration's efforts to hunt leakers led to the extraordinary step of subpoenaing communications metadata from members of Congress — a nearly unheard-of move outside of corruption investigations. While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one."
After the seizures offered no evidence of leaks, the investigation began to wane until Sessions' successor, former Attorney General Bill Barr, revived it by bringing in an outside prosecutor.
One of the targets of that investigation was then-Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA), a favorite enemy of the Trump Administration for his role in Trump's first impeachment.
Because the gag order on the subpoena expired only this year, Schiff and other targets of the investigation only recently found out about the subpoenas.
In a Thursday night interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo, Schiff railed against the Trump administration for its "terrible abuse of the rule of law."
Rep. Adam Schiff says he was “shocked on the one hand, not surprised on the other,” when he first heard of reports… https://t.co/s2ZqEO2F8N— Cuomo Prime Time (@Cuomo Prime Time) 1623375868.0
"I view Bill Barr as the second most-dangerous person in the country after Donald Trump and this is just further proof of that."
He responded to the news on Twitter as well.
People shared his outrage.
I completely support my colleague @RepAdamSchiff on this. Our democracy depends on it. https://t.co/CdquIw8oY0— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@US Rep Brendan Boyle) 1623373678.0
We cannot condemn this behavior harshly enough! No words! 😖🤨 https://t.co/ZhHkLLvm6k— Susan Johnson-Clayton (@Susan Johnson-Clayton) 1623404570.0
he did everything he accused others of and more. https://t.co/DXG8vqqFgX— Ralph Whataworld (@Ralph Whataworld) 1623406483.0
Trump and Barr need to be held accountable for their actions. What good is the rule of law if it doesn't apply to… https://t.co/TxUzIRAHXZ— MamaK Just arrest him already! (@MamaK Just arrest him already!) 1623372680.0
The New Jersey prosecutor Barr brought in to revive the case in 2020, Osmar Benvenuto, is still at the Department of Justice.
Why is Benvenuto still at DOJ? https://t.co/maIwhRXTiB— Parry 🗽 💙🏛 #TeamJustice ✨💙👁👩🍳🇺🇸🙏👥 (@Parry 🗽 💙🏛 #TeamJustice ✨💙👁👩🍳🇺🇸🙏👥) 1623427370.0
Prosecute anyone at DOJ now or prior employed, who had any part in the subpoena of members of congress. Why is Pros… https://t.co/hLIIHbFdlq— Diana Arlet (@Diana Arlet) 1623382611.0
Bill Barr and Osmar Benvenuto should be invited to testify before Congress about the DOJ’s secret seizure of metada… https://t.co/OSFu6FaIu8— Ted Lieu (@Ted Lieu) 1623382660.0
The news comes just after multiple reports that the Trump administration also seized the communications of multiple journalists.