The US Justice Department under former President Donald Trump subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in an attempt to find out who was behind leaks of classified information, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam Schiff, then the panel's top Democrat and now its chairman, the Times said.
The paper cited unnamed committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry for the report.
Prosecutors under Jeff Sessions, the first attorney general in Trump's Republican administration, were seeking to find the sources behind media reports about contacts between Trump associates and Russia, the Times said.
"Ultimately, the data and other evidence did not tie the committee to the leaks, and investigators debated whether they had hit a dead end and some even discussed closing the inquiry," the paper said.
Apple turned over only metadata and account information, not photos, emails or other content, the Times said.
The Justice Department also seized Apple data from the accounts of committee aides and family members, the Times said. It did not name any other member of the House beside Schiff.
William Barr, attorney general in Trump's latter years in office, revived the investigation, it said.
Schiff said in a statement to Reuters that the Justice Department had informed the committee last month that the investigation was 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," Schiff said.
In a statement to Reuters, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, called the news "harrowing" and said she supported Schiff's call for an investigation.
The Times said the Justice Department "secured a gag order on Apple that expired this year, according to a person familiar with the inquiry, so lawmakers did not know they were being investigated until Apple informed them last month."
The Justice Department and Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
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