Such seems to be the case with John Demers who is stepping down from the Department of Justice amid the news that the Trump administration secretly requested Apple gather metadata from members of the House Select Committee on Intelligence including Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. Why that information was being sought in 2018 is not explored in the most shared of the news stories on the event, but the fact that it happened is now attached to John Demers’s name whether he had anything to do with it or not.
Demers’ resignation comes amid questions about what he knew about the Justice Department’s efforts to secretly seize the phone data from House Democrats and reporters as part of the aggressive investigations into leaks.
Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized in a statement Monday that “political or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions” and noted the department’s inspector general has already launched an investigation.
“Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law,” he said, “we must ensure that full weight is accorded to separation-of-powers concerns moving forward.”
As of this writing is not clear that Demers really had anything to do with that operation. In fact, he was going to resign by the end of the month, but now that the information is out that gathering of phone data took place without anyone knowing about it, Demers’s departure is being painted with a broad brush.
News emerged last week that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed Apple for metadata from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and another Democratic member of the panel, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, in 2018, as their committee was investigating Trump’s ties to Russia. Schiff at the time was the top Democrat on the panel, which was led by Republicans.
The records of at least 12 people connected to the House intelligence panel were eventually shared with the Justice Department by Apple after the subpoena was issued in 2018. The people included aides, former aides, and family members. One was a minor.
The subpoena, issued Feb. 6, 2018, requested information on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple said. It also included a non-disclosure order that prohibited the company from notifying any of the people and was renewed three times, the company said in a statement.
Demers has been in charge of the department’s national security division since February 2018, being sworn in a few weeks after the subpoena was issued to Apple for the Democrats’ records, and his division has played a role in each of the leak investigations.
At some point, the why of the surveillance will come out. Hopefully.