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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for information in February 2018 about an account that belonged to Donald F. McGahn II, President Donald J. Trump’s White House counsel at the time, and barred the company from telling him about it, according to two people briefed on the matter.
Apple told Mr. McGahn about the subpoena last month, said one of the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter. Mr. McGahn’s wife also received a similar notice from Apple, the person said.
It is not clear what F.B.I. agents were investigating, whether Mr. McGahn was their specific focus or whether he was swept up in a larger net because he had communicated with someone who was under scrutiny. As the top lawyer for the 2016 Trump campaign and then the White House counsel, Mr. McGahn was in contact with numerous people who may have drawn attention either as part of the Russia investigation or a later leak inquiry.
Still, the disclosure that agents had collected data of a sitting White House counsel, which they kept secret for years, is extraordinary.
And it comes amid a political backlash after revelations that the Trump administration secretly seized the personal data of reporters and Democrats in Congress from phone and tech companies while investigating leaks.
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill on Sunday ratcheted up pressure on the Justice Department and former officials to provide a fuller accounting of events. They called on the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, John C. Demers, and the former deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to testify before Congress along with the former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William P. Barr.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment, as did a lawyer for Mr. McGahn. An Apple representative did not respond to a request for comment.
Apple told Mr. McGahn that it had complied with the subpoena in a timely fashion but declined to tell him what it had provided the government, according to a person briefed on the matter. Under Justice Department policy, gag orders for subpoenas may be renewed for up to a year at a time, suggesting that prosecutors went to court several times to…