Justice Dept., Congress probing Trump seizures of Dems' data

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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department's internal watchdog launched an investigation Friday after revelations that former President Donald Trump's administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats as part of an aggressive leaks probe. Democrats called the seizures "harrowing" and an abuse of power. The announcement by Inspector
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WASHINGTON — The Justice Department's internal watchdog launched an investigation Friday after revelations that former President Donald Trump's administration secretly seized phone data from at least two House Democrats as part of an aggressive leaks probe. Democrats called the seizures "harrowing" and an abuse of power.

The announcement by Inspector General Michael Horowitz came shortly after Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco made the request for an internal investigation. Horowitz said he would examine whether the data subpoenaed by the Justice Department and turned over by Apple followed department policy and "whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations."

Horowitz said he would also investigate similar Trump-era seizures of journalists' phone records.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and another Democratic member of the panel, California Rep. Eric Swalwell, said Apple notified them last month that their metadata had been subpoenaed and turned over to the Justice Department in 2018, as their committee was investigating the former president's ties to Russia. Schiff was then the top Democrat on the panel, which was led by Republicans.

While the Justice Department routinely investigates leaked information, including classified intelligence, subpoenaing the private information of members of Congress is extraordinarily rare. The disclosures, first reported by The New York Times, raise questions about what the Justice Department's justification was for spying on another branch of government and whether it was done for political reasons.

In a statement, White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates said the Trump administration's conduct is "shocking" and "clearly fits within an appalling trend that represents the opposite of how authority should be used."

Bates said one…
Associated Press
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