Trump Justice Department official denies knowledge of snooping on Democrat lawmakers

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Rod Rosenstein on Capitol Hill during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP)
Rod Rosenstein on Capitol Hill during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP)

Another former top official at the Justice Department under the Trump administration is distancing himself from reports that the agency seized phone records from at least two Democratic members of Congress.

Rod Rosenstein, the former deputy attorney general who oversaw investigations into former President Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia, has told associates that he knew nothing of a subpoena to Apple demanding phone records of House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep Adam Schiff, as well as another member of the House and their respective staff and families, CNN reported Saturday.

News of the subpoena was first reported by The New York Times on Thursday. According to the Times, the records of nearly a dozen people were seized in the effort, which was characterized as an effort by the Trump administration to tamp down on leaks to the news media regarding the investigation and the former president’s ties to Russia in general.

Mr Rosenstein’s reported statements denying knowledge of the subpoena comes after other top Justice Department officials under the same administration including former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and William Barr made similar denials.

The Daily Beast reported that sources close to Mr Sessions, who recused himself from the Russia investigation, said that he was neither aware of the subpoena nor briefed on the seizure of phone records in any regard. Mr Barr denied knowledge in a statement directly to Politico.

Mr Barr was "not aware of any congressman’s records being sought in a leak case," he said, adding: "I never discussed the leak cases with Trump. He didn’t really ask me any of the specifics."

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