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US Department of Justice Probes Secret Seizure of House Democrats' Data

FILE - The U.S. Department of Justice headquarters building is seen in Washington, July 13, 2018.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Inspector General says it is beginning a review of the department’s use of subpoenas to obtain communication records of U.S. lawmakers and members of the media.

The review comes after Democratic Representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell were informed that the Justice Department had taken their metadata from Apple in 2018 as part of a crackdown on leaks linked to the Russia probe and other national security issues, according to The Associated Press. The news agency attributed the information to three sources with knowledge of the seizures.

“The review will examine the department’s compliance with applicable DOJ policies and procedures, and whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations,” said DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz, in a Friday statement.

“If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider other issues that may arise during the review. The review will not substitute the OIG’s judgment for the legal and investigative judgments made in the matters under OIG review.”

Senate Democratic leaders insisted Friday that the two attorneys general who served in the Trump administration testify about the covert seizure of data from House Democrats in 2018.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin said former Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr "must testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee." The Senate leaders described the seizures as "a gross abuse of power and an assault on the separation of powers."

The Democratic senators threatened to issue subpoenas if Sessions and Barr refused to testify.

Swalwell and Schiff, the current chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, were members of the committee at the time of the seizures. The actions by the Trump-era Justice Department indicate that the executive branch was using its investigative prosecutorial powers to spy on the legislative branch, the AP said.

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