The Senate has demanded that Trump-era law enforcement chiefs testify regarding data seizures.
Senate Democratic leaders are asking that Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions, the Trump administration’s attorneys general, testify about the secret data grab of House Democrats in 2018, calling it “shocking” and a “gross abuse of power.”
Mr Barr and Mr Sessions “must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee” and face a subpoena if they refuse, said Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and Illinois senator Dick Durbin in a statement.
The demands came after Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were informed that personal metadata was collected from Apple three years ago by the Trump Justice Department.
The business finally released the records of at least 12 persons connected to the House Intelligence Committee, including Mr. Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat at the time and now its chairman.
While the Justice Department often probes leaked information, including sensitive intelligence, an inquiry of members of Congress is extremely uncommon. The revelations show how one part of the government used its investigative and prosecutorial powers to spy on another.
The seizures, according to Mr. Schiff, indicate “a corrupt president’s weaponization of law enforcement.”
Last month, Apple informed the committee that the records had been exchanged and that the inquiry had been completed, but it did not provide any other information. According to the committee official, the records of aides, former aides, and family members, one of whom was a minor, were also seized.
According to one of the sources, the Justice Department obtained metadata — likely logs of calls, texts, and whereabouts — but not additional information from the devices, such as images, messages, or emails. Another source claimed that Apple complied with the subpoena by sending the material to the Justice Department, but did not immediately tell members of Congress or the committee.
The Trump administration’s efforts to acquire secret access to the data occurred at a time when the president was publicly and privately furious over congressional and special counsel Robert Mueller investigations into his campaign’s links to Russia.
He has been repeatedly chastised for calling the investigations a “witch hunt.” (This is a brief piece.)