(AP) — Apple
informed former Trump White House
counsel Don McGahn
and his wife that the Justice Department
had secretly subpoenaed information from their accounts in 2018, a person familiar with the matter said Sunday, just days after two House lawmakers revealed they, too, had their information secretly subpoenaed.
It is unclear why the Trump administration
sought the McGahns' records, but the others were part of a leak investigation
related to the investigation of Russian-related election
interference. The extraordinary disclosure that the Justice Department sought records of a sitting White House counsel and others, first reported by the New York Times
, raises questions about how far the Trump administration went.
Separately, the Senate
’s top Democrat called on the Justice Department’s top national security official — a Trump appointee who has remained in the Biden administration
— to testify under oath voluntarily or face subpoena to answer questions about secretly seizing phone data from House Democrats
and reporters as part of the aggressive leak investigations.
If former Attorneys General Bill Barr
and Jeff Sessions
refuse to appear voluntarily, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer
, D-New York, said it is “imperative” that the Senate Judiciary Committee issue a subpoena to John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security, as well as former Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
, D-Calif., also called on Barr, Sessions, and Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department's No. 2 official at the time, to testify under oath in the House about what they knew, but she declined to say whether she would issue subpoenas if they refused to appear.
“Under President Trump, the Justice Department has been rogue in so many ways,” Pelosi said on CNN
’s “State of the Union,” adding that “this is just another manifestation of their rogue activity.”
Schumer and Pelosi's demands come just days after it was revealed that the Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple for metadata from House Intelligence Committee
Chairman Adam Schiff
and another Democratic
member of the panel, California
Rep. Eric Swalwell
, in 2018, while their committee was investigating the former president's ties to Russia. Schiff was the top Democrat on the panel at the time.
Demers has been in charge of the department's national security division since February 2018, having been sworn in just a few weeks after the subpoena was issued to Apple for the Democrats' records, and his division has played a role in each of the leak investigations. Schumer has called on Senate Republicans
to join him in demanding the subpoenas.
“This was nothing short of a gross
abuse of power,” Schumer said of the seized documents, adding, “I don’t think we’ve ever had a record of this in the past.... This is about separation of powers.”
President Joe Biden
has nominated Matt Olsen, an Uber
executive with experience in the Justice Department, to be the next assistant attorney general for national security. Olsen previously served as director of the National Counterterrorism
Center and as general counsel for the National Security Agency
However, Demers has remained in place while Olsen awaits Senate confirmation; the former Boeing executive is one of the few remaining Trump appointees.
After the subpoena was issued in 2018, Apple eventually shared the records of at least 12 people
connected to the House intelligence panel, including aides, former aides, and family members, one of whom was a minor, with the Justice Department.
The subpoena, issued on Feb. 6, 2018, sought information on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, according to Apple, and included a non-disclosure order that barred the company from notifying any of the individuals. It was renewed three times, according to the company.
Following a request from Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the Justice Department's inspector general launched an investigation into the matter on Friday, saying he would look into whether the data subpoenaed by the Justice Department and turned over by Apple followed department policy and "whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations."
Horowitz also stated that he would look into similar Trump-era phone-record seizures.
In recent weeks, the Justice Department notified news
organizations that it had secretly seized phone records belonging to New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN reporters as part of criminal leak investigations.
Following a public outcry from press freedom
organizations, the Justice Department announced earlier this month that it would discontinue the practice of going after journalists
for obtaining information.