Add Microsoft And Another Congressional Staffer To The List Of Entities Targeted In Trump DOJ Leak Investigations
from the just waiting on the yahoo! revelations now dept
The hits just keep on coming. Gag orders are being lifted or expiring and we’re finding out even more about DOJ leak investigations under Trump. Under AGs Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr, the DOJ targeted journalists, Congressional reps… even readers of USA Today.
The DOJ went after journalists working for the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN while trying to hunt down the source of leaks, sending subpoenas to third party service providers hoping to acquire phone records and email metadata.
The most recent revelation exposed the DOJ’s targeting of Rep. Adam Schiff — one of Trump’s many, many punching bags — in a leak investigation. The DOJ sent a grand jury subpoena to Apple, seeking metadata for 109 identifiers, specifically 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses. The information sought covered not only Schiff but his staffers and family members. Another Congressional Rep, Eric Swalwell, was targeted by the same subpoena.
It appears no third party was left out of the DOJ’s attempt to hunt down leakers. The latest news on the DOJ’s leak hunting pulls in Microsoft.
Microsoft in 2017 received a subpoena for a congressional staff member’s personal email account, a company spokesperson said via email. The staffer hasn’t been identified.
This subpoena came with a gag order attached.
The spokesperson added: “In this case, we were prevented from notifying the customer for more than two years because of a gag order. As soon as the gag order expired, we notified the customer who told us they were a congressional staffer.”
And another two years before it was actually made public. I assume this didn’t seem newsworthy to the staffer in 2019 when they were informed of the subpoena by Microsoft. But in 2021, with news about the DOJ’s questionable investigative techniques breaking almost daily, it apparently seemed relevant enough to bring this to the media’s attention.
Both President Biden and the DOJ have promised to stop seeking information about journalists and their sources during future leak investigations. Presumably government employees like the Congressional reps and staffers are still considered valid investigational targets when the DOJ looks for leakers. Whether this will continue to include family members of government employees remains to be seen.
The Inspector General of the DOJ has opened an investigation into these investigations. This will possibly result in even more information about its targeting of journalists coming to light. Unfortunately, it may also result in an exoneration of the DOJ, as its guidelines for seeking information about journalists were, until recently, pretty expansive. This means the DOJ could cause considerable constitutional trouble without breaking the rules it wrote for itself. If nothing else, we can hope the DOJ’s promise to exclude journalists from leak investigations outlasts the current administration.