The request comes as Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee held a briefing led by President Adam Schiff. A source said members were “spirited” trying to figure out who in the Justice Department and the Trump administration was behind the attempt to seize their files.
The activity follows the explosive revelation that prosecutors in the Trump administration’s Justice Department have subpoenaed Apple to obtain data from the accounts of the House Intelligence Committee Democrats as well as their staff and family members in connection with an investigation into the leaks.
Prosecutors were looking for the sources behind the reports about contacts between Russia and Trump associates.
“If they refuse, they are likely to be subpoenaed and forced to testify under oath,” Democrats said in a statement.
“This question should not be partisan; under the Constitution, Congress is a co-equal branch of government and must be protected from an over-ambitious executive, and we hope our fellow Republicans will join us in getting to the bottom of this serious matter, ” said Schumer and Durbin.
Democrats to ask Apple to determine if additional members have been targeted by DOJ
Democrats on the Intelligence Committee plan to ask Apple to determine whether additional members have been targeted by Trump’s Justice Department, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Members provide staff with all of their different numbers and accounts and staff will ask Apple to provide information as to whether they have been subpoenaed by DOJ.
Generic “Apple notices” were sent to members whose files were seized, sent on May 5, the source said. But members are concerned that these generic emails may have been ignored, deleted, or scanned into their spam folders.
White House calls reports “appalling”
During the Biden administration’s first camera reaction on Friday, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield called the reports “appalling.”
“The reports on the behavior of Donald Trump’s attorney general are appalling,” Bedingfield said during an appearance on MSNBC from Cornwall, England.
Bedingfield suggested that President Joe Biden has a “very different relationship” with the Department of Justice than his predecessor, denouncing the Trump administration’s “abuse of power” with the department, and adding that the Department of Justice of the Biden administration is “managed very, very differently.” “
Biden, Bedingfield said, “respects the independence of the Department of Justice, and that’s an extremely important part of how he governs.”
Swalwell says Trump ‘militarized’ Justice Department
California Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell, whose data was seized by the Trump administration, said Trump had “armed” the Justice Department to dig into private communications.
“These are ordinary Americans who don’t want their government to militarize law enforcement against them because of their political beliefs,” Swalwell told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “Newsroom.”
Asked by Sciutto on Friday if he had disclosed any classified information involving investigations, Swalwell replied, “No, never. “
This story has been updated with details of the House Democrats meeting.
CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to this report.