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Justice Department watchdog to probe subpoenas of Congress and media

Trump DOJ obtained records of House Democrats
Trump DOJ obtained records of House Democrats 02:02

Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday that his office would review the department's use of subpoenas and other legal tools to obtain the communications data of some lawmakers, aides, family members and journalists in the course of its investigation into who was leaking information regarding aides to then-President Trump and their contacts with Russia.

During the Trump administration, federal prosecutors subpoenaed Apple in 2017 and 2018 for data from the accounts of two Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee, a House Intelligence Committee official told CBS News. Two sources said that current Chairman Adam Schiff was one of targets, and Congressman Eric Swalwell on Thursday told CNN his records, too, had been seized.

Microsoft was also subpoenaed in 2017 for the data of a congressional staffer, two sources confirmed to CBS News on Friday. 

Horowitz said in a statement that the watchdog review would examine the department's compliance with "applicable DOJ policies and procedures." The inspector general is also looking into whether the use of any of these policies or procedures — as well as the investigations themselves — "were based on improper considerations."

Schiff welcomed the inspector general's investigation and in a statement called it "an important first step." He also called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to "do a full damage assessment of the conduct of the department over the last four years and outline all of the accountability and mitigation necessary to protect the public going forward."

According to the New York Times, which first reported the subpoenas, the records of at least a dozen people connected to the House Intelligence Committee were seized, including those of committee aides and family members. 

A source told CBS News on Friday that Apple received a subpoena for data amounting to to 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses on February 6, 2018. Not all of the subpoena requests were for Apple users. 

The source also said a gag order, which prevented Apple from disclosing the requests, was extended three times before it expired on May 5. 

Jason Miller, a senior adviser to former President Trump, had no comment when asked whether Mr. Trump knew of or ordered subpoenas of the phone records.

A House Intelligence Committee official told CBS News that the targets of the subpoenas were told by Apple in May that the Justice Department had issued grand jury subpoenas for their information in February 2018, and records were also seized in 2017. The Times reported that Apple only provided metadata and account information, not emails or personal information. It also said that the data provided to the Justice Department didn't show that the leaks came from the committee, which was informed in May that the matter had been closed.

Over the past few weeks, multiple news outlets have said they were notified by the Justice Department that it had secretly obtained phone and email records from some of their reporters in the first months of the Trump administration.

After President Biden condemned the practice in late May, the Justice Department said this month that it would no longer seize reporters' records while investigating leaks.

Arden Farhi contributed to this report.

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