Prosecutors subpoenaed, then gagged Apple — updated

Democratic lawmakers didn’t know their metadata had been seized until Apple informed them last month, after the gag order expired.

From “Hunting Leaks, Trump Officials Focused on Democrats in Congress” on Page 1 of Friday’s New York Times:

As the Justice Department investigated who was behind leaks of classified information early in the Trump administration, it took a highly unusual step: Prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members. One was a minor.

All told, the records of at least a dozen people tied to the committee were seized in 2017 and early 2018, including those of Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat and now its chairman, according to committee officials and two other people briefed on the inquiry…

Moreover, just as it did in investigating news organizations, 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.

My take: Big front-page story with four heavy duty bylines, three of them Pulitzer Prize-winners. Hard to avoid politics when Apple is an actor in the story.

UPDATE: Fast-developing story. We learned Friday that Rep. Eric Swalwell was also targeted. And according to CNN, the gag order was renewed three times before the new administration declined to renew it, freeing Apple to notify the targets. Schiff thinks other Democratic committee members may have missed the Apple notification, mistaking it for spam. There’s a lesson there somewhere.


  1. Robert Varipapa said:
    Thank God Trump wasn’t reelected. Biden has slowed and maybe even reversed the turning of America into a fascist, authoritarian state.

    We need to keep on our toes to keep Trump and his supporters out of government as much as possible (in spite of hurdles like the electoral college and widespread gerrymandering!)

    The January 6th riot was no joke and now some of his conspiracy-minded supporters and even Trump himself say he’s going to be back in office in August!

    June 11, 2021
    • Nicholas Watland said:
      Thanks for the chuckle Joe and Robert Varipapa…… Comical that both of you are trying to assert that the current “president” is a bastion of morality. I could go round and round with you both, but I think most people would like to keep the politics out of the Apple conversation.

      June 11, 2021
      • Robert Varipapa said:
        Biden has his issues (so does Mother Theresa!) but nothing even close to our prior president (small ‘p’ intended.) Just hope our democracy can make it over the next 5-10 years considering the voter suppression laws and gerrymandering being put in place. Joe Biden most likely will be the pinnacle of our politics for years to come.

        June 11, 2021
  2. Gregg Thurman said:
    I have a prized handgun that I hope will remain as it is forever. It’s a Smith & Wesson Model 39, an 8 shot, double action 9 mm. It’s never been fired and has only been removed from its box once.

    As a police officer in the early ‘70s I carried one of these in additional to my service revolver.

    The Model 39 was discontinued 38 years ago. Mine was produced 43 years ago.

    June 11, 2021
  3. Robert LoCascio said:
    I know that political commentary is “verboten” here so I want to be respectful of that policy. I think it is important for all of us, regardless of our political view point, to be extremely disturbed by this report. Hard to imagine the incredibly difficult position Tim Cook & Co. were put in when, deep down inside, they knew that this smelled bad. The line between concerns of national security leaks and Erdoğan-like authoritarianism got might blurry under our previous President.

    Kudos to Apple for informing all those involved as soon as it was legally permissible. I suppose that was the best they could have done under the circumstances.

    June 11, 2021
    • Timothy Smith said:
      Tim Cook was trying to prevent damaging tariffs by playing nice with Trump, while he knew Trump was using the DOJ to spy on the Dems. Good for my stock. Bad for my democracy.

      June 11, 2021
  4. Jonathan Haulenbeek said:
    Veiled attempt to ‘respect’ a policy “verbieten” discussion of politics while simultaneously defying the policy. Hmm.

    June 11, 2021
  5. Rodney Avilla said:
    This is a good example of how politicians tend to spiral downward. Trump, probably was not at the top of his class in ethics or integrity, finds out from the Dept. of Justice that the sitting president spied on him as a candidate. So what does he do when he gets in office? “I can play this game.” But of course, he has to ratchet it up, just to show them who’s boss.
    I believe Cook and Co were navigating a very thin line, avoiding damaging tariffs and trying to protect IP, while working with someone he probably would rather not be around, to put it mildly. Tim probably has no intention of being a politician, but he sure sets a good example of pragmatism.

    June 11, 2021
  6. DETOX takes time, patience and steps to make sure those considering a leadership role in the future understand the parameters. Bully pulpits accomplish nothing positive. I haven’t heard Cramer or other talking heads muse over the implications of a POTUS tweet in months. Have they turned back the nuclear clock yet?

    June 11, 2021

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