Trump officials reportedly seized Apple records in leak probe

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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks with President Donald Trump during a meeting at the the White House in March 2019.


Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Trump administration officials subpoenaed Apple for data from at least a dozen people connected to the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to root out the source of leaks of classified information, The New York Times reported. The targets included at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members — one of whom was a minor.

Prosecutors, who seized the records in 2017 and early 2018, were searching for the source of media leaks about contacts between Trump associates and Russia, The Times reported. Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat, was one of the members of Congress targeted, sources told the newspaper.

Apple provided metadata and account information, but not photos, emails or other content, a person familiar with the inquiry told the Times. Ultimately, the data subpoenaed didn’t tie the committee to the leaks, the newspaper reported.

The report follows recent revelations that former President Donald Trump’s administration had secretly obtained phone and email records from a number of journalists, including reporters for CNN and the Washington Post. President Joe Biden said last month he had directed the Justice Department to end the practice of seizing phone or email records of reporters.

As it did with the news organizations, the Justice Department obtained a gag order that prevented Apple from disclosing the subpoenas, a source told the Times. Lawmakers only learned of the probe last month from Apple, after the gag order had expired, the newspaper reported.

Schiff called the investigation “baseless” and said it highlighted how Trump used the system to target political enemies.

“This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice,” Schiff said in a tweet Thursday evening.

Apple typically receives thousands of requests each year for individual data from governments and private parties in litigation around the world. In April, the company reported that requests it received in 2020 had targeted 171,368 devices, a drop of 12% from the same time in 2019. Apple provided the information requested 80% of the time.

Representatives for Apple and the Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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