In February 2018, the US Justice Department requested Apple data from Donald McGahn, the legal adviser to then-President Donald Trump, via a subpoena, according to the New York Times. Apple complied with this request and had to keep it secret.
It is not clear exactly what information the ministry has received and for what purpose the ministry requested it, The New York Times writes on the basis of two anonymous sources. Apple reportedly notified McGahn about the subpoena last month. McGahn’s wife was also reportedly informed by Apple.
McGahn was a key attorney in Trump’s election campaign in 2016 and part of the White House counsel from 2017 to October 2018, thereby serving as legal counsel to the US president. These roles likely put McGahn in touch with people linked to Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling and a later investigation into leaks inside the White House. The paper expects the subpoena to McGahn’s Apple data to be linked to one of these two investigations.
According to the paper, the subpoena was issued on behalf of FBI agents. For investigations, these agents sometimes collect large lists of phone numbers and email addresses of people who were in contact with someone under investigation, the newspaper writes. With the subpoenas, these agents would like to learn more about these people who were in contact with the subject of the investigation. They often ask for information such as names, IP addresses and credit card numbers, the newspaper writes. It is not clear whether the ministry also requested this information about McGahn’s contacts.
The New York Times disclosure comes after the newspaper wrote a few days earlier that the United States Department of Justice had sent similar subpoenas in 2018 for the Apple data of American politicians. This was not only about the politicians themselves, but also about family, including a minor child, the newspaper writes. The data of more than twelve people would have been requested. They would be politicians from the Democratic Party of both houses of the United States Congress. According to the newspaper, the ministry specifically asked for metadata from these politicians. These politicians and family members were also only informed last month.