ODemocratic lawmakers Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were recently informed by technology giant Apple that the US Department of Justice in 2017 and 2018 required some of their data, following an investigation into leaking confidential information.
Members of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, the two were suspected of having disclosed to journalists information about the ‘delicate’ investigation into suspected collusion between Moscow and Donald Trump’s administration, which marred the beginning of the Republican president’s term, news the AFP agency.
In the United States, leaking confidential information is illegal, and federal prosecutors can issue search and arrest warrants to discover the source. However, it does not seem that, until now, parliamentarians have been the target of this type of approach.
“This is a gross abuse of power and an attack on the separation of powers,” said Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who called former Justice Ministers Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr to report to the Senate Judiciary Committee. .
The Justice Department’s Inspector General has also announced an investigation into “the Department’s use of subpoenas and other legal means to obtain information about communications from members of Congress, or their relatives, with media.”
The case is even more controversial because prosecutors tried to find collaborators and relatives of the two men, including a minor, with the intention of checking whether they had loaned the suspects their phones to contact journalists.
The data did not confirm the suspicions, but the investigation was restarted a year later and did not end before the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, who regularly accused Adam Schiff of being the author of leaks.
In addition, the Department of Justice ordered Apple not to disclose the investigation, which ended this year. Lawmakers were only informed of the investigations last month.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this has happened to other people,” said Eric Swalwell, considering these “facts unacceptable”.
Donald Trump sought to “use the department as a ‘stick’ against his political opponents and members of the media,” stressed Adam Schiff.
The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN recently revealed that some of their journalists also ran into trouble with the Justice Department, which during Trump’s rule ‘fought’ behind the scenes to obtain bills, emails and call histories.
Republican and Democratic governments have issued subpoenas against journalists in the past to try to discover their sources.
After a scandal in 2013, the Barack Obama administration created new rules and gave the ‘green light’ to top Justice Department officials to issue any warrants against journalists.
Last week, the Government led by current US President Joe Biden assumed, through White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki, that “summoning journalists for investigations into political leaks is not in line with the political guidance of the president”.
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