Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schiff, Swalwell confirm Trump DOJ secretly seized records in leak probe

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the committee, were notified last month that the Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Apple records about them in 2017-18, in what Schiff called "a body blow to our democracy."

Driving the news: Schiff and Swalwell spoke on CNN after the N.Y. Times revealed that as part of a leak investigation, the Justice Department subpoenaed, and received, Apple metadata (records but not actual content) for at least a dozen House Intelligence Committee members, aides and family members. One was a minor.

  • The records contained no proof of leaks. "As the years wore on, some [DOJ] officials argued in meetings that charges were becoming less realistic," The Times reported. "They lacked strong evidence, and a jury might not care about information reported years earlier."

Schiff, who at the time was the committee's top Democrat under a GOP chair, told Chris Cuomo that the requests were "extraordinarily broad — people having nothing to do with ... the intelligence matters that are, at least, being reported on," and called it a "fishing expedition":

  • "What they were looking for, I still don't know. Apparently they didn't find anything."

Swalwell told Don Lemon that the officials and relatives "were targeted punitively — not for any reason in law, but because Donald Trump identified Chairman Schiff and members of the committee as an enemy."

  • Swalwell said the subpoenas were covered by gag orders: "It looks like they were renewed a number of times and, thankfully, ... it looks like [the Biden administration] did not renew it."
  • "The matter's closed," Swalwell said. "And of course it's closed, because we did nothing but our jobs, and we followed the rules we were supposed to follow in our investigation that showed that Donald Trump and his team sought to have assistance from Russia."

Schiff said Trump used the Justice Department as "this bludgeon to go after the president's enemies, and a shield to protect those who lied for him."

  • "We brought about these new norms after Watergate to prevent exactly this kind of abuse. But they didn't survive his presidency."
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