Democrats are angry after it emerged that the Justice Department has ordered Apple to hand over their data.
The U.S. Department of Justice will launch an investigation into former President Donald Trump‘s administration’s attempts to intercept data on the communications of Democratic politicians.
The New York Times has described how the Trump administration tried to find out who had leaked information about a possible connection to Russia.
That prompted the Justice Department under Trump to order IT giant Apple and another unnamed provider to release data on some of his political opponents, the newspaper writes.
This is so-called metadata, ie telephone numbers and lists of calls and messages – but not the content of messages or conversations.
The ministry also ordered Apple to keep it a secret, the newspaper writes.
The case is now to be investigated by the ministry’s internal watchdog, Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Democrats are furious after the news broke in the New York Times.
Congressman Adam Schiff is one of the two Democratic politicians who say they have been told by Apple that in the period 2017-2021, the Department of Justice has demanded data about them.
The other is Eric Swalwell. Both are members of the House Intelligence Committee.
Trump allegedly tried to find out if they were the ones who had leaked destructive information about his election campaign’s ties to Russia in the 2016 election campaign.
However, it is unclear whether Trump has directly asked the Justice Department to investigate Schiff and Swalwell.
Monitoring members of Congress is a serious step. It will require a really good justification and approval from the top spot in the Ministry of Justice, writes the news agency Reuters.
During Trump’s tenure, the Justice Department has been given data on about 100 people, writes Reuters.
It shows that they were on a “fishing trip”, says Schiff. He describes Trump as a “corrupt president” who has politicized the Justice Department.
The attempt to obtain information about their communication is “one of the most dangerous attacks on our democracy” on the part of the former president, says Schiff.
Senate leaders are considering summoning two of Trump’s former justice ministers, William Barr and Jeff Sessions, to testify in the case, according to the AFP news agency.
– It is a serious abuse of power and an attack on the division of power, says Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dick Durbin.
According to Reuters, observers call it one of the most serious cases of abuse of power by a president since Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.
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