Another day brings another explosive report about information that the Justice Department sought during former President Donald Trump’s administration. And the latest one is a doozy because of the person involved. Turns out, Apple told former White House counsel Don McGahn that the Justice Department subpoenaed the company for information about an account he owned in February 2018, reveals the New York Times. McGahn’s wife also received a similar notice from Apple. The Justice Department didn’t just seek the information but also barred Apple from telling McGahn about it. Considering gag orders are only valid for a year, the fact that McGahn was only told in May suggests that prosecutors asked for several extensions.
This latest revelation raises a lot of questions. It isn’t clear what information Apple handed prosecutors and it also isn’t known exactly why the Justice Department wanted the information and whether the focus was McGahn or he was just part of a broader collection of data. But it’s extraordinary that the Justice Department would subpoena records for the White House counsel. It’s possible, however, that the subpoena didn’t have to do with his work in the White House but rather his time as the top lawyer for the Trump campaign in 2016. The subpoena was issued by a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, which was at the center of a part of the Russia inquiry led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Besides the Russia inquiry though, at the time of the subpoena, Trump had become angry at McGahn. It was around the time it was revealed Trump had called on McGahn to oust Mueller, which McGahn refused to do. Trump became very angry when that news became public and tried to get McGahn to deny it. But CNN reports the subpoena didn’t come from Mueller’s team.
Although it isn’t known whether the subpoenas were politically motivated, the revelation comes at a time when Democrats are demanding answers about the Trump-era Justice Department following news that prosecutors sought records from members of the House Intelligence Community. It also comes on the heels of revelations that lots of information was sought about journalists. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on his Republican colleagues to join Democrats to subpoena former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr to testify. “This is not just some kind of Washington insider thing,” Schumer said. “It’s about people’s phone records being subpoenaed without them even knowing about it, and who knows who would be next.” The Justice Department’s independent inspector general, Michael Horowitz, confirmed on Friday he would launch an investigation.