Report: Democrats outline plans to ask Apple & WhatsApp for help in the Trump-Russia investigation

It appears that Washington D.C. lawmakers are planning to ask Apple for help as they investigate the use of encrypted messaging apps in the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation. In a memo, democrats on the Intelligence Committee outlined what they may do if they take over the House of Representatives in November…

As reported by The Intercept, the memo focuses on what democrats on the Intelligence Committee would have done if they were in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation, also indicating what they could do if they win the House in November, giving them subpoena power:

Democrats on the Intelligence Committee released a memo laying out the steps they would have taken had they been in charge of the Trump-Russia investigation — and steps they may take if and when they gain subpoena power by taking over the House of Representatives in November.

On page 20 of the memo are two ideas that could see Washington D.C. again going head-to-head with Apple and others. Specifically for Apple, the lawmakers say the Intelligence Committee should ask the company for records of what “key individuals” downloaded encrypted messaging apps.

The Intelligence Committee also targets WhatsApp, suggesting issuing a subpoena to the messaging company for “messages exchanged between key witnesses of interest.”

Last but not least, their goal is to find out “all messaging applications” used by Jared Kushner during the 2016 campaign and subsequent presidential transition.

“Apple: The Committee should seek records reflecting downloaded encrypted messaging apps for certain key individuals,” the memo suggests. “The Committee should likewise issue a subpoena to WhatsApp for messages exchanged between key witnesses of interest.”

The committee said that it would also seek to find out “all messaging applications that Mr. Kushner used during the campaign as well as the presidential transition, including but not limited to SMS, iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Slack, Instagram, and Snapchat.”

One thing to point out here is that the Intelligence Committee doesn’t seem to be asking Apple for records of the messages, just what apps were downloaded by key individuals. Apple told The Intercept that it doesn’t comment on specific law enforcement matters, instead pointing to the company’s existing guidelines for law enforcement cooperation:

These guidelines make clear that Apple retains download and purchase records and will provide them under court order. The App Store is like any other store: If you’re using it, you’re probably leaving behind very detailed receipts.

Ultimately, it’s possible that these plans could never come to life as they’re dependent upon democrats winning the House this fall. Apple’s level of cooperation with these requests, however, is an entirely different topic.

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