OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
An explosive new report reveals that Department of Justice prosecutors seized metadata records from Apple in 2017 and early 2018 for accounts belonging to California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell.
The DOJ under Donald Trump seized Apple data from the accounts of Schiff and Swalwell as part of an aggressive crackdown on leaks related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters
Schiff joined MSNBC host Rachel Maddow to discuss the report and he certainly seemed quite panicked.
Schiff said, “It’s really norm within norm within norm being broken here. The first, most important norm post-Watergate is the president of the United States does not get involved in particular cases at the Justice Department. He doesn’t urge the Justice Department to investigate particular people. That’s one very important norm.”
He continued, “Beyond that, the president doesn’t urge the department to investigate his political adversaries or his political enemies. That is even a more important norm.”
“And then I think even beyond that, you have the specter of a president who is himself under investigation by our committee, calling for an unprecedented subpoena — unprecedented subpoenas for account information pertaining to members of Congress, to staff members, to family members, even to a minor child,” he added.
“So, it’s extraordinary, maybe unprecedented for the department to seek records like this of a member of Congress or staff of a member of Congress or staff of a committee, to do so in a partisan way, to do so when they’re investigating him, to do so openly calling on his department. It’s hard to express just how shocking abuse of power this really is,” he said.
Chairman Schiff: “The Attorney General has an obligation to clean house. … Make sure that there’s accountability for those that were engaged in political and partisan investigations.”
Also tonight, Rep. Ted Lieu: “Anyone involved in this who is still at DOJ needs to resign.” pic.twitter.com/xSQJt2yWdn
— Ryan Goodman (@rgoodlaw) June 11, 2021
The records reportedly do not contain any other content from the devices, like photos, messages, or emails, one of the other people said.
The Associated Press reported:
Schiff, now the panel’s chair, confirmed in a statement Thursday evening that the Justice Department had informed the committee in May that the investigation was closed.
Still, he said, “I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president.”
The Justice Department told the intelligence panel then that the matter had not transferred to any other entity or investigative body, the committee official said, and the department confirmed that to the committee again on Thursday.
The panel has continued to seek additional information, but the Justice Department 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, the committee official said.
Swalwell, confirming that he was told his records were seized, told CNN Thursday evening that he was aware a minor was involved.
Swalwell confirms he was the second House member whose records were seized by DOJ. (Schiff the other.) “I was notified by Apple that they did seize my records,” he says on CNN https://t.co/cKZzFZFXPx
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) June 11, 2021
Federal agents questioned at least one former committee staff member in 2020, the person said, and ultimately, prosecutors weren’t able to substantiate a case.
It’s not illegal for the executive branch to get search warrants on members of the legislative branch.
The House Intelligence Committee was investigating Donald Trump and his campaign at the time, and there were massive leaks weekly for well over a year that were intended to “damage” Trump.
And, here’s the most important part: a judge signed off on these warrants.
Leaks of classified information are a crime and one would think that obtaining search warrants for members of Congress would have a higher threshold to meet.
In order to get the subpoenas, it seems as if DOJ prosecutors presented credible evidence to a judge in order to obtain the warrants to seize the metadata.