The Justice Department seized former White House counsel Don McGahn’s phone records from Apple in 2018, The New York Times reports.
McGahn is the latest figure and first member of Trump’s inner circle involved in a slew of new reports revealing that the Trump Justice Department subpoenaed the phone records of top Democrats Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell and reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN during leak investigations.
Apple told McGahn that he and his wife were targeted with a subpoena in February 2018, while he was still serving as Trump’s top White House lawyer, and then barred the company from discussing it.
It’s unclear what the DOJ was investigating or whether McGahn was caught up in a larger operation that may have targeted people he interacted with.
DOJ issued gag order:
The Justice Department got a gag order to prevent Apple from discussing the subpoena.
Gag orders typically have to be renewed each year, meaning that prosecutors likely went to court multiple times to prevent Apple from notifying McGahn while Trump was still in office.
Apple notified McGahn of the subpoena but did not tell him what information it gave to the government.
“There is a lot here we don’t know, including the facts and circumstances surrounding the request for the delay and what was presented to the judge,” former federal prosecutor Paul Rosen told The Times, adding that prosecutors would have had to show that notifying a target “would endanger someone’s safety, risk the destruction of evidence or intimidation of witnesses, or seriously jeopardize an investigation.”
The subpoena came from the Eastern District of Virginia.
Around the same time, former special counsel Bob Mueller was heading an investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in the district.
“Because Mr. McGahn had been the top lawyer for the Trump campaign in 2016, it is possible that at some earlier point he had been among those in contact with someone whose account the Mueller team was scrutinizing in early 2018,” the Times noted.
Manafort was hit with new fraud charges the day before the subpoena was issued and media reports noted that Mueller’s team was scrutinizing his communications in the subsequent days.
McGahn was also involved in a leak about Trump’s phone call directing him to instruct the DOJ to fire Mueller, which McGahn refused to do.