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

Go deeper

Trump nominates former Nunes aide to be intelligence community watchdog

Devin Nunes. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump on Wednesday announced his intent to nominate National Security Council official Allen Souza, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), to serve as the inspector general of the intelligence community.

Why it matters: Trump fired the IC's previous inspector general Michael Atkinson for his handling of a whistleblower complaint about the president's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Atkinson's decision to turn over the complaint to Congress ultimately led to Trump's impeachment.

Updated 27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m. ET: 32,381,243 — Total deaths: 985,104 — Total recoveries: 22,285,437Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4:15 p.m ET: 7,015,242 — Total deaths: 203,329 — Total recoveries: 2,710,183 — Total tests: 98,481,026Map.
  3. States: "We’re not closing anything going forward": Florida fully lifts COVID restaurant restrictions — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tests positive for coronavirus.
  4. Health: Young people accounted for 20% of cases this summer.
  5. Business: Coronavirus has made airports happier places The expiration of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance looms.
  6. Education: Where bringing students back to school is most risky.
Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

White House pushes to uphold TikTok ban

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday filed legal opposition to TikTok's request to delay a ban on downloading the app, with a judge expected to rule before the ban is set to go into effect Sunday.

Why it matters: The White House could have simply postponed the ban on its own for another week or two, as it did last Friday. This move suggests it's seeking to use the ban as leverage in ongoing negotiations.

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