By Manu Raju, Evan Perez, Katie Bo Williams and Paul LeBlanc | CNN
Prosecutors in the Trump administration Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of House Intelligence Committee Democrats — including Chairman Adam Schiff — along with their staff and family members as part of a leak investigation, an Intelligence Committee official and a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN.
Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, another Democrat on the committee, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Thursday evening that he was notified that his data had been seized as part of the probe as well.
The prosecutors, the New York Times first reported, were looking for the sources behind news stories about contacts between Russia and Trump associates.
The leak hunt began with the FBI sending a subpoena to Apple in February 2018, which included a gag order, seeking metadata on more than 100 accounts as part of an investigation into the disclosure of classified information, the person familiar with the matter said.
The gag order was renewed three times before it expired this year and Apple notified the customers. The House Intelligence Committee determined that along with members of the panel and staff, the dragnet collected the records of family members, including at least one minor, the person said.
Records seized included those from staff members who had nothing to do with issues related to Russia or former FBI Director James Comey, including Schiff’s personal office staff, a House Intelligence Committee source told CNN.
Democratic committee leadership is relying on self-reporting to know who has been impacted at this point — both members and staff, the source said.
Swalwell confirmed to CNN that records of family members and a minor had been obtained.
“I do know that to be true,” he told Lemon. “And I believe they were targeted punitively, not for any reason in law but because Donald Trump identified Chairman Schiff and members of the committee as an enemy of his.”
Those subject to subpoenas were notified in May by Apple that the Justice Department had issued grand jury subpoenas in February 2018 for their information, the House Intelligence Committee official said.
“The Committee has continued to seek additional information, but the Department has not been forthcoming in a timely manner, including on questions such as whether the investigation was properly predicated and whether it only targeted Democrats,” the committee official told CNN.
At this point, legislative affairs staffers are the only Justice Department staff who have communicated with the Intelligence Committee, according to the committee source.
News of the subpoenas marks just the latest disclosure about the Trump administration’s heavy-handed tactics toward leak investigations. The development follows a series of revelations about the Justice Department secretly obtaining records from journalists, including CNN’s Barbara Starr, as well as reporters from The Washington Post and other news organizations.
And while the data didn’t tie the committee to the leaks during then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tenure, William Barr moved a prosecutor from New Jersey to the main Justice Department to work on the Schiff-related case and others when he became attorney general the following year, three people with knowledge of his work told the Times.
A spokesperson for Justice Department, a representative for Apple and Barr declined to comment to the Times.
In a statement Thursday evening, Schiff said, “The politicization of the Department and the attacks on the rule of law are among the most dangerous assaults on our democracy carried out by the former President. Though we were informed by the Department in May that this investigation is closed, I believe more answers are needed, which is why I believe the Inspector General should investigate this and other cases that suggest the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president.”
Asked by CNN’s Chris Cuomo later Thursday about the number of accounts seized, Schiff said he was not certain of the number but posited, “It wouldn’t surprise me if it was an extraordinary number because just the circle that I am aware of was so overbroad that they clearly were not discriminating. They were simply fishing.”
That message was echoed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called the development “harrowing.”
“These actions appear to be yet another egregious assault on our democracy waged by the former president,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“I support Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s call for an investigation into this situation and other acts of the weaponization of law enforcement by the former president. Transparency is essential.”
This story has been updated with further developments.
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