(CNN)Ex-top Trump Justice Department official Rod Rosenstein has told people in recent days he was not aware of a subpoena that targeted the data of Democratic members of Congress while he was deputy attorney general, a source familiar with Rosenstein told CNN on Saturday.
The attorney general at the time of the Apple subpoena, Jeff Sessions, was recused from all matters related to the Russia probe so a related leak investigation would have fallen under Rosenstein, CNN has reported. Former Attorney General Bill Barr, who took office a year after the subpoena was issued, also said Friday he does not recall discussing a probe of lawmakers.
Rosenstein’s distancing from the controversial investigation comes as details released by Apple show the government presented the company with a broad subpoena for data connected to many numbers and emails and then put it under a gag order preventing disclosures to customers. The subpoena did not describe the nature of the investigation.
The gag order was renewed three times but was not extended this year. That freed Apple last month to finally inform those whose data was taken. It is at that point that Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell — both California Democrats on the Intelligence Committee who were Trump opponents — as well as committee staff and other staff, some family and even a minor learned their data was taken. Records seized included those from staff members who had nothing to do with issues related to Russia or former FBI Director James Comey, including Schiff’s personal office staff, a House Intelligence Committee source told CNN.
The Justice Department has not publicly explained why Apple was being ordered to hand over the data. The Justice Department has also not explained why the request was so broad, who approved it, and what was being investigated. The Department of Justice is launching an Inspector General review into how the investigation
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