Two prominent Democrat politicians who sit on the House Intelligence Committee have alerted the news media that they were informed by the Apple corporation back on May 5 that their phone records had been targeted by a subpoena issued by a grand jury as part of a federal investigation into criminal leaking of classified material.
Apple said in a released statement that a non-disclosure order from a federal judge prevented them for more than three years from alerting any of the affected phone and email accounts that their records had been accessed by the federal grand jury.
Both Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) stated in media interviews how shocked they were to discover that that federal prosecutors would even think of allowing a grand jury to subpoena their private phone data. Both men professed outrage at the invasion of their privacy, and congressional Democrats are now angrily calling for former Attorney Generals Jeff Sessions and William Barr to be brought in to answer questions, along with former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
The validity of both the subpoenas and the evidence upon which they were based are loudly being called into question, something that has already led to Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz to review the matter, to ensure that all proper steps and regulations were followed while these congressmen, their staff, several family members, and media reporters were spied on by this federal grand jury.
Remember Who Told You This Was Happening
Ponder this for a minute, if you will. The entire time much of the conservative media was in high outrage loudly wondering why Schiff and Swalwell and other members of Congress weren’t being investigated in relation to the obvious politically motivated leaking of classified material that was going on, there was already an investigation underway that involved a federal grand jury that was issuing surveillance subpoenas.
And the DOJ never announced any of this. In the face of overwhelmingly hostile media coverage, Jeff Sessions never said one word about members of Congress being targets of federal leak probes. William Barr didn’t either. Neither did Rod Rosenstein.
To seriously ask the question, “Why wouldn’t Sessions, Barr or Rosenstein tip off members of Congress and media reporters that they were subjects of federal criminal leak investigations?” is to answer it.
And yet I’ve spent three years watching people babble on my TV and in live interviews about how outrageous it was that nobody was investigating Schiff and Swalwell and the reporters they were allegedly leaking to because obviously if there was any investigation of them, the DOJ would have told us—and the targets of the investigation.
I was writing here at The Epoch Times back in July and August 2018 that members of Congress were highly likely being investigated by federal agents for criminal leaking of classified material. Only the people doing those investigations just weren’t publicly talking about it.
My very first column for The Epoch Times was entitled “The Great Leak Hunt,” in which I detailed then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and then-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein revealing that a special counterintelligence unit had been created to hunt down Spygate leakers.
My second column was called “Rod Rosenstein: The Man With the Most Thankless Job in America,” and I wrote about the biggest reason the DOJ could not share Russiagate-related evidence with Congress. It was because key members of the Senate and House intelligence committees were under investigation for possibly participating in the criminal leaking that promoted the Trump/Russia collusion hoax.
Why the DOJ Doesn’t Announce the Launching of Federal Criminal Leak Investigations
The DOJ rarely announces the beginning of any kind of criminal probe. There are many good reasons for that, not least of which is to keep the targets from destroying evidence before the investigators can find it.
Another is that if they don’t find enough evidence to sustain any charges, the targets of the investigation don’t suffer any consequences. Many times, people are investigated quietly, no evidence of any crimes are found, and the matter is dropped. No one gets embarrassed or has their reputation harmed.
When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said back in August 2017 that the special counterintelligence unit had been created to find these leakers and followed that up in November 2017 by saying there were currently 27 active leak cases underway at the DOJ, I’ll point out that the DOJ hadn’t announced the initiation of any of these investigations. Not even one of the 27. No public alert was issued; they had done exactly nothing to tip off the targets of these leak probes.
Again: this is standard procedure. You do not alert the target of a criminal investigation by having the DOJ tell the public or the news media that an investigation into them is being initiated. I continue to be somewhat amazed how this needs to be repeatedly explained.
Only in the most general sense were Sessions and Rosenstein talking about the leak hunts back in 2017 and 2018. They were extremely careful in their language to never explicitly state who any of the targets were of those investigations.
Members of Congress Are Not Immune to Criminal Investigations
And yet, to hear some people tell it, you’re supposed to be amazed that the DOJ dared to open leak investigations targeting members of Congress without alerting the public or those members of Congress that they were doing that.
I have a friend named Thomas Wictor who loves to say, “Nobody knows how anything works!” and this certainly appears to be a prime example of that.
We would in fact have a dysfunctional DOJ if it was in the habit of tipping off criminal suspects that grand juries were issuing subpoenas targeting their activity.
The justice system worked exactly as it was supposed to.
Classified material was being leaked out of Congress to the news media for politically partisan purposes, to drive a false narrative created to damage the Donald Trump presidency. An investigation into that criminal activity was initiated, and a newly created counterintelligence unit went to work. A grand jury was seated, and subpoenas were issued.
And absolutely nothing leaked about any of this investigative activity for more than three years, since the first subpoena was issued to Apple on Feb. 6, 2018.
Of course, the DOJ isn’t going to tell us the current status of the investigation into Schiff or Swalwell or any of the others who were targets of the grand jury probe. They especially would not do this if the grand jury is still investigating.
Thus far, we only know that a decision was made not to renew the Apple-related non-disclosure order, allowing the company to finally alert those affected by the subpoenas this past May 5.
My question at this point is: If Apple alerted both Schiff and Swalwell back on May 5 that they’d been targets of a federal grand jury probe looking at their phone and email records, why’d they wait more than a month to go public with this development?
Did that federal grand jury uncover any real evidence of criminal leaking of classified material during its investigation, and was it enough to sustain any criminal charges?
We’ll have to wait and see.
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Telegram at t.me/drawandstrikechannel.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.