The Justice Department said Friday that it will review secret subpoenas launched under former President Donald Trump that obtained communication data of members of Congress and journalists.
The department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, announced the internal review one day after The New York Times reported that DOJ prosecutors subpoenaed Apple and one other internet service provider in 2017 and 2018. The department sought data from the accounts of House Democrats, as well as phone records of reporters for major media outlets, in an effort to determine who had leaked information about Trump’s relationship with Russia.
“The review will examine the Department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations,” Horowitz said in a statement. “If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review.”
Under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ subpoenaed Apple to obtain communications metadata of at least a dozen House Intelligence Committee members, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who served as the committee’s top Democrat at the time and is currently its chairman. The department reportedly also sought metadata from some lawmakers’ family members, one of whom was a minor.
The secretive move also included obtaining phone records from reporters who worked for CNN, The Washington Post and The New York Times. The DOJ secured a gag order on Apple that expired this year, which allowed the company to inform those whose records had been seized.
“These actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement on Thursday.