The Trump DOJs secret subpoenas

Email sent: Jun 14, 2021 6:00pm
A probe into the seizure of Democrats' data; key takeaways from the G7.

Biden's Justice Department will look into Trump DOJ subpoenas of Democrats; data; the G7 summit in Cornwall concludes.


Tonight's Sentences was written by Anya van Wagtendonk.


The Justice Department is investigating secret seizures of House Democrats’ data


Tom Brenner/AFP via Getty Images

  • According to a series of reports from the New York Times, then-President Donald Trump’s Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple and Microsoft for data generated by California Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Rep. Eric Swalwell; members of their staffs and families (including one minor); journalists working for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN; and then-White House counsel Don McGahn and his wife. [NYT / Michael S. Schmidt and Charlie Savage]

  • The subpoenas were served in February 2018, while Jeff Sessions was attorney general and as then-special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election was underway. [AP / Michael Balsamo and Eric Tucker]

  • McGahn had recently refused to fire Mueller when the subpoena was issued, and Schiff and Swalwell were looking into potential wrongdoing as members of the House Intelligence Committee. [NPR / Ryan Lucas]

  • The subpoenas were reportedly issued in order to root out the source of leaks from the administration during the investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia, and have raised concerns about the potential misuse of executive branch power. [Reuters / Susan Cornwell]

  • The White House has said that these practices will end and that the alleged data seizures were “shocking, and clearly fits within an appalling trend that represents the opposite of how authority should be used.” Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Justice would investigate. [NYT / Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage]

  • Democrats have called for top Trump officials, including former AGs Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to testify. Each has denied knowing about the subpoenas; Barr told the Los Angeles Times that he did not “recall that particular case,” claiming, “The subpoena was sought before I arrived.” [LA Times / Del Quentin Wilber, Chris Megerian and Jennifer Haberkorn]

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, told CNN that it was “beyond belief” that top DOJ officials under Trump did not know what was going on, and compared the targeting of House Democrats to the Watergate scandal under Richard Nixon. [CNN]

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Plans to tackle climate change, new pandemics, and China come out of the G7 summit

  • The annual Group of Seven (G7) summit wrapped up in Cornwall, England, on Sunday after three days of talks among leaders from seven wealthy democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States — as well as representatives of the European Union. Leaders from Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa were also present for talks that addressed the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine access, climate change, Russian cyberattacks, and the group’s relationship with China, among other topics. [Al Jazeera]

  • In a joint communiqué at the meeting’s end, the group promised to donate 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to lower-income countries, discussed ways to prepare for future pandemics, and called on China to participate in a joint investigation into the pandemic’s origins. [Carbis Bay Declaration]

  • In addition, the declaration took China to task over alleged human rights abuses domestically and in Hong Kong and for unfair trade practices. A statement from Beijing accused the group of “arbitrarily interfering in China’s internal affairs.” [CNN Business / Nectar Gan, Jill Disis, and Ben Westcott]

  • Climate change and energy transitions were central to the talks, too, with the group committing in its final communiqué to “halving our collective emissions over the two decades to 2030, increasing and improving climate finance to 2025 and to conserve or protect at least 30 percent of our land and oceans by 2030.” [BBC]

  • G7 leaders indicated afterward that meeting with Biden during his first summit as president felt different than meetings with former President Donald Trump: “It is great to have a U.S. president who’s part of the club and very willing to cooperate,’’ French President Emmanuel Macron said. [NYT / David E. Sanger and Michael D. Shear]

  • Next up, the larger Group of 20 will meet in Italy in October; there, Biden’s approach to foreign policy will be tested at a table with Russia and China, among other nations. [Reuters / Leigh Thomas]


On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans would not allow a Biden nominee for the Supreme Court to move forward in 2024 if the party takes back that chamber — even though the GOP advanced two nominees in 2020, months before Biden was elected president. [The Hill / Jordain Carney]

  • The Supreme Court has deferred a case contesting Harvard University’s use of affirmative action in admissions, asking the acting solicitor general of the United States to decide whether they should take up the case. [Washington Post / Robert Barnes]
  • Trial results of a new Covid-19 vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Novovax suggest that the drug is 90 percent effective in protecting against symptomatic infection. The drug must still go before the FDA. The company says it expects to produce 100 million doses per month by this fall. [Stat News / Helen Branswell]
  • Aung San Suu Kyi, the former civilian leader of Myanmar, is on trial for what human rights groups are calling trumped-up charges. The United Nations has called on her to be freed; she and other pro-democracy lawmakers were jailed following a military coup in February. [AP / Grant Peck]


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“I think we’re in a contest — not with China per se, but a contest with autocrats, autocratic governments around the world. ... And I think how we act and whether we pull together as democracies is going to determine whether our grandkids look back 15 years from now and say, ‘Did they step up? Are democracies as relevant and as powerful as they have been?’”


What we aren't taught about the Black Panther Party. [YouTube / Ranjani Chakraborty]

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