Attorney General at the time of Apple’s subpoena, Jeff Sessions, was recused from all matters relating to the Russia investigation. Former Attorney General Bill Barr, who took office a year after the summons was issued, also said on Friday that he did not recall discussing an inquiry with lawmakers.
Rosenstein’s distancing from the controversial investigation comes as details released by Apple show the government presented the company with a broad subpoena for data related to numerous numbers and emails, and then brought it down. subject to a gag order preventing disclosure to clients. The summons did not describe the nature of the investigation.
The gag order has been renewed three times but has not been extended this year. This released Apple last month to finally notify those whose data was taken. It was at this point that Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell – both California Democrats on the Intelligence Committee who were opponents of Trump – as well as committee staff and other staff, some members of the family and even a minor learned that their data had been taken. The files seized included those of staff members who had nothing to do with issues related to Russia or former FBI Director James Comey, including staff from Schiff’s personal office, a source told CNN of the House Intelligence Committee.
The Justice Department has not publicly explained why Apple was ordered to hand over the data. The Justice Department also did not explain why the request was so broad, who approved it and what the investigation was about. The Justice Department is launching an Inspector General’s review of how the investigation was conducted.
“If they refuse, they are likely to be subpoenaed and forced to testify under oath,” Democrats said in a statement Friday. But a Senate aide explained that Democrats would need the support of at least one Republican on the equally divided Judiciary Committee to approve any subpoena. House Democrats, however, can issue subpoenas without GOP consent.
Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, which Schiff chairs, plan to ask Apple to determine whether additional members have been targeted by Trump’s Justice Department, CNN reported.
Representative Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois on the committee who told CNN on Friday he did not know if his data had been entered, said on Saturday that the Justice Department should provide information. “I think it’s time for the Department of Justice to come forward and brief all of Congress on everything they know,” he said on CNN’s “Newsroom”.
“I think the Attorney General has to recognize that this is not an isolated incident,” he added, referring to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “This is a systemic abuse of power, as we have already described. He has to master it. ”
News of the subpoenas, which erupted Thursday night, marked only the latest revelation about the Trump administration’s tough tactics in investigating the leaks. The development follows a spate of revelations about the Justice Department secretly obtaining files from journalists, including CNN’s Barbara Starr, as well as reporters from the Washington Post and other news outlets.
This story has been updated with an additional background.