A Black Lives Matter protest in Boston on June 17. Photo: Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Air Force inspector general is investigating the use of a military reconnaissance plane used to surveil Black Lives Matter protesters in multiple cities, the New York Times first reported and Axios has confirmed.

Driving the news: The top intelligence official at the Department of Defense told Congress last week that he had not received orders from the Trump administration to surveil protesters gathering across the U.S., per the Times.

  • “Given the complex and classified nature of foreign intelligence collection, it is not always readily apparent to the American public how lawful foreign intelligence collection and analysis differs from unlawful intelligence activities rightfully prohibited by U.S. law and D.O.D. policy,” Joseph Kernan, under secretary of defense for intelligence, wrote in a letter to Congress, per the Times.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered a review last week of the National Guard’s response to demonstrators across the country, the Times writes.

The big picture: House Democrats on the Oversight Committee have called for the Department of Homeland Security to explain how it surveilled and intimidated peaceful protesters, including with drones and armed, uniformed officers.

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration, via a memo first obtained by BuzzFeed News, was granted temporary powers at the end of May to "enforce federal criminal laws in the wake of protests arising from the death of George Floyd."
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection sent a drone into Minneapolis in late May to take live footage of protestors at the request of federal law enforcement. The agency then recalled the unmanned predator drone, saying that police deemed it unnecessary. CBP did not specify why officers found the drone unnecessary or which agency requested it initially.

What they're saying: "Following discussions with the Secretary of Defense about shared concerns, the Secretary of the Air Force is conducting an investigation into the use of Air National Guard RC-26 aircraft to support civil authorities during recent protest activity in U.S. cities," General Pat Ryder, Air Force spokesperson said in a statement emailed to Axios. "The investigation is being led by the Air Force Inspector General. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time due to the ongoing nature of the investigation."

Go deeper: House Democrats call for investigation into DEA protester surveillance

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DOJ whistleblower to allege political interference in antitrust probes

Photo: Doug MIlls-Pool/Getty Images

A career Justice Department lawyer will testify to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that political leaders in the agency's antitrust division initiated a probe of four automakers' carbon emissions agreement with California a day after President Trump tweeted criticisms of the preliminary deal.

Driving the news: John Elias, one of two whistleblowers testifying in Wednesday's hearing about political interference at the Justice Department, says in prepared testimony that the since-abandoned probe into Ford, BMW, Honda and VW initiated on Aug. 22, 2019, did not follow the typical procedures.

House chair demands Trump admin explain Nigel Farage's trip to U.S.

A photo of Nigel Farage he posted to Twitter before President Trump's rally on Saturday. Photo: Nigel Farage/Twitter

House Homeland Security Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) wrote to the Trump administration Monday requesting information on British politician Nigel Farage's trip to the U.S. for President Trump's Oklahoma rally over the weekend.

Why it matters: The administration imposed a ban on most people traveling to the U.S. from countries including the U.K. during the coronavirus pandemic. Thompson said in his letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf that the U.K. Brexit Party leader's visit "raises numerous troubling questions." He wants to know why the Department of Homeland Security deemed his trip in the "national interest."

Go deeper: Nigel Farage attends Trump rally after "national interest" exemption from U.S. travel ban

  • Axios has contacted the Trump administration and Farage's representatives for comment.

Louisville police officer involved in Breonna Taylor shooting fired

Protesters hold pictures of Breonna Taylor, left, Andrew Kearse, center, and Ahmaud Arbery, right, during a demonstration on June 22 in Boston, Massachusetts. Photo: Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Louisville police officer Brett Hankison was fired on Tuesday, effective immediately, for "blindly" firing 10 bullets into Breonna Taylor's apartment on March 13, the police department announced.

Driving the news: Black Lives Matter protesters and activists on social media have called for punitive action in the wake of Taylor's death, after she was fatally shot by police who entered her apartment without warning through a "no-knock" warrant.