aDemocratic lawmakers Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were recently told by the tech giant Apple that the US Department of Justice in 2017 and 2018 requested some of their data, following an investigation into a leak of classified information.
Members of the House Intelligence Committee are suspected of disclosing to journalists information about the ‘meticulous’ investigation into suspected collusion between Moscow and the administration of Donald Trump, which tarnished the start of the Republican president’s term, according to AFP.
In the United States, leaking classified information is illegal, and federal prosecutors can issue search and arrest warrants to discover the source. However, it does not appear, so far, that parliamentarians have been the target of this type of approach.
“This is a blatant abuse of power and an attack on the separation of powers,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who called on former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr to report to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Justice Department’s Inspector General also announced an investigation into “the Department’s use of subpoenas and other legal means to obtain information about communications from members of Congress, or their relatives, with the media.”
The case is more controversial because prosecutors tried to find collaborators and relatives of the two men, including a minor, with the intent of checking whether they lent the suspects their phones to call reporters.
The statements did not confirm the suspicions, but the investigation resumed a year later and was not concluded before the end of the presidency of Donald Trump, who has regularly accused Adam Schiff of being the author of the leaks.
In addition, the Department of Justice ordered Apple not to disclose the investigation, which ended this year. Lawmakers were only informed of the investigation last month.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this has happened to other people,” Eric Swalwell said, considering these “facts unacceptable.”
Adam Schiff stressed that Donald Trump sought to “use the department” as a stick “against his political and media opponents”.
The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN recently revealed that some of their journalists also ran into problems with the Department of Justice, which “fought” behind the scenes during Trump’s tenure to obtain bills, emails and call logs.
Republican and Democratic governments have issued subpoenas against journalists in the past to try to discover their sources.
After the 2013 scandal, the Barack Obama administration instituted new rules and gave the “green light” for senior Justice Department officials to issue any arrest warrants against journalists.
Last week, the government led by current US President Joe Biden assumed, through White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki, that “summoning journalists to investigate political leaks is not in line with the president’s policy directives.”