Justice Dept. seeks internal probe on seizure of Dems' data

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fairly difficult
The Justice Department asked for an internal investigation Friday after revelations that former President Donald Trump's administration seized phone data from at least two House Democrats in 2018 as part of an aggressive leaks probe. Democrats called the disclosures "harrowing."
WASHINGTON —

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco made the request of the Justice Department's inspector general, a senior Justice Department official told The Associated Press. The official could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

While the Justice Department routinely investigates leaked information, such an investigation into members of Congress is extraordinarily rare. The disclosures reveal one branch of the government using its powers of investigation and prosecution to spy on another.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and California Rep. Eric Swalwell were notified last month that Trump's Justice Department had seized their metadata from Apple three years ago as part of the leaks probe related to the Russia investigation and other national security matters. That's according to three people familiar with the seizures.

Also Friday, Senate Democratic leaders demanded that Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify about the data shared by Apple, calling it "shocking" and a "gross abuse of power."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said in a statement Friday that Barr and Sessions "must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee" and are subject to a subpoena if they refuse.

Schiff, now the chairman of the intelligence panel, said in a statement that the seizures suggest "the weaponization of law enforcement by a corrupt president."

Prosecutors from Trump's Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for the data, said a committee official and two other people with inside knowledge. The records of at least 12 people connected to the intelligence panel were eventually shared by the company.

The committee official and the two others with knowledge of the data seizures were granted anonymity to discuss them.

Apple informed the committee…
MARY CLARE JALONICK, MICHAEL BALSAMO, Associated Press
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