California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell, whose data was seized by the Trump administration as part of a leak probe, on Friday said former President Donald Trump “weaponized” the Justice Department to dig into the private communications of his political opponents.
“This is about everyday Americans who don’t want to see their government weaponize law enforcement against them because of their political beliefs,” Swalwell told CNN’s Jim Sciutto on “Newsroom.”
CNN reported Thursday that prosecutors in Trump’s Justice Department, beginning in February 2018, subpoenaed Apple for data from the accounts of House Intelligence Committee Democrats, their staff and family members, including at least one minor, as part of a leak investigation, a committee official and a source familiar with the matter confirmed to CNN. The subpoena included a gag order, which was renewed three times before it expired this year and Apple notified the customers in May.
Prosecutors were reportedly hunting for the sources behind news stories about contacts between Russia and Trump associates.
The revelation about the subpoenas marks the latest disclosure about the Trump administration’s heavy-handed tactics toward leak investigations, after reports in recent weeks revealed how the Trump DOJ secretly obtained records from journalists.
Asked Friday by Sciutto if he leaked classified information involving investigations, Swalwell replied, “No, never.”
He echoed Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff’s calls for an inspector general investigation into the Justice Department’s actions, saying there’s “much that we don’t know, much that we want to learn.” He also argued that anyone at the department who is involved in the matter should be fired.
Schiff is expected to share more information learned about the seizure in a Friday afternoon briefing with the panel’s Democratic members, a source familiar with the matter told CNN.
This story has been updated with additional reaction and reporting.