National Security

Trump DOJ demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple says

The Justice Department (DOJ) under former President Trump in seeking information on lawmakers demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses from Apple, the tech giant said in a Friday statement shared with multiple news outlets. 

Apple said it had received the subpoena for data as issued by a federal grand jury in February 2018, along with a "nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge," according to reports from CNN and TechCrunch.

The company added that the request "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." 

"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," the company added in its statement. 

CNN reported that the nondisclosure order subsequently had three extensions, each lasting a year, but notified affected customers of the subpoena last month when the order was not extended for a fourth time. 

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Hill Friday that it also received a subpoena in 2017 related to a congressional staffer's personal email account, but was prevented from notifying the staffer for more than two years due to a gag order.

"As we've said before, we believe customers have a constitutional right to know when the government requests their email or documents, and we have a right to tell them," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"As soon as the gag order expired, we notified the customer who told us they were a congressional staffer," the spokesperson added. "We then provided a briefing to the representative's staff following that notice. We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this."

The Hill has reached out to Apple for additional information.

The statements comes a day after The New York Times reported that Trump administration officials had in 2017 and 2018 seized Apple records in connection with at least a dozen people, including House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), as well as family members and at least one minor. 

The Times reported that prosecutors under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions were looking to identify sources who may have been speaking to members of the media in relation to communications between Trump associates and Russia. 

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (Ill.) on Friday called for multiple investigations into the DOJ's reported 2017 and 2018 subpoenas, as well as for Sessions and another one of Trump's attorneys general, William Barr, to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The DOJ's internal watchdog confirmed on Friday that it would investigate the subpoenas for records on Democratic lawmakers, as well as reports that the Trump administration also sought phone and email records for various journalists.

Updated: 9:30 p.m.

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