Three of Donald Trump’s top Justice Department officials have now pleaded ignorance about their agency’s seizures of data on the communications of two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA). Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been telling those close to him recently that he was unaware of the subpoenas that led to the seizure of data on 36 email addresses and 73 phone numbers from Apple in 2017 and 2018, joining William Barr and Jeff Sessions in making similar assertions, CNN reports. The leak investigation that led to the subpoena would have fallen under Rosenstein’s purview, as then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from matters related to the investigation of Russian interference. In addition to Schiff and Swalwell, the subpoenas targeted their aides and family members, including a minor.
The Justice Department’s incursions on the communications of congressional Democrats represents an extraordinary expansion of its domestic surveillance, and the news comes after weeks of revelations about how the bureau issued subpoenas for the phone and email records of journalists at CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times and legally gagged executives at those outlets, as well as at Apple, Microsoft, and Google. The department’s inspector general has launched a probe into the origins of the requests to Apple.