Justice department watchdog launches inquiry into seizure of Democrats’ data – live

Congress members’ phone records targeted by Trump DoJ Schumer calls for Barr and Sessions to testify before SenateTrump DoJ secretly seized House Democrats’ data in crackdown on leaks

11.46pm BST

Jerry Nadler, the chair of the House judiciary committee, has released a new statement regarding the reports of the Justice department’s targeting of members of congress and journalists in its leak investigations.

“My concern at this hour is that the corruption may run deeper than has already been reported,” he said, and questioned whether the justice department’s effort to gain information from reporters was connected to the seizure of information about members of the Intelligence committee.

It is outrageous that the Department of Justice may have used a criminal investigation as pretext to spy on journalists, Members of Congress, their families, and Congressional staff. Sadly, after four years of Donald Trump’s corrupting influence at the Department of Justice, we have every reason to believe that these reports are true. Indeed, my concern at this hour is that the corruption may run deeper than has already been reported. We know that the Department, under Attorneys General Sessions and Barr’s leadership, tried to secretly seize data from the accounts of these reporters and of my colleagues on the Intelligence Committee—but we do not yet know how these two efforts were connected, or whether there were additional targets of this gross abuse of power.

I am grateful that Inspector General Horowitz has committed to investigating both cases. His work here will be invaluable. An investigation by his office is, however, no substitute for swift action by the Department of Justice.

11.16pm BST

Recent revelations about just how far the Trump administration went to uncover leakers is shining a spotlight on how tech giants respond to government demands for information about their users.

Apple was unaware that the subpoena it received for user data in February 2018 included members of Congress, their families and congressional staffers, the New York Times just reported. But it complied with the request as well as with a gag order preventing it from informing the customers information was taken.

Fred Sainz, an Apple spokesman, said in a statement that the company regularly challenges government data requests and informs affected customers as soon as it legally can.

“In this case, the subpoena, which was issued by a federal grand jury and included a nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge, provided no information on the nature of the investigation and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts,” he said. “Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures.”

More frequently than not, the companies comply with law enforcement demands. And that underlines an awkward truth: As their products become more central to people’s lives, the world’s largest tech companies have become surveillance intermediaries and crucial partners to authorities, with the power to arbitrate which requests to honor and which to reject.

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