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Protesters walk across the Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan on June 6. Photo: Bryan R. Smith/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats on the Oversight Committee called Saturday for the Department of Homeland Security to explain how it has surveilled people protesting the killing of George Floyd.

Driving the news: The committee's probe follows a Drug Enforcement Administration memo, first obtained by BuzzFeed News, that granted the agency temporary heightened powers to "enforce federal criminal laws in the wake of protests arising from the death of George Floyd."

Details: On May 31, the DEA was granted the temporary power on a nationwide basis to "conduct covert surveillance and protect against threats to public safety" and share collected intelligence with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The memo authorized the new powers for two weeks.

What they're saying: "This Administration has undermined the First Amendment freedoms of Americans of all races who are rightfully protesting George Floyd’s killing. The deployment of drones and officers to surveil protests is a gross abuse of authority and is particularly chilling when used against Americans who are protesting law enforcement brutality," the lawmakers said in their letter to acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf.

  • The DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Border Patrol recalls predator drone from Minneapolis protests

Go deeper

Lawmakers probe DHS after whistleblower complaint on Russian interference

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sept. 1. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are investigating the Department of Homeland Security based on a former senior officials' whistleblower complaint that he was told to stop giving assessments on threats of Russian interference in the U.S. because it "made the president look bad," lawmakers announced Friday.

Why it matters: The National Counterintelligence and Security Center has concluded that Russia is seeking to undermine Joe Biden's campaign and the Democratic Party, while supporting President Trump's candidacy.

Mike Allen, author of AM
34 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Fauci's offensive against "craziness"

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

After becoming a top punching bag for the right, Dr. Anthony Fauci is defending himself with a sharp new edge, arguing that an attack on him is an attack on science.

What he's saying: In comments to Kara Swisher on her New York Times "Sway" podcast, shared first with Axios, Fauci says: "It is essential as a scientist that you evolve your opinion and your recommendations based on the data as it evolves. ... And that's the reason why I say people who then criticize me about that are actually criticizing science."

Afghanistan's president coming to Washington on Friday

Ashraf Ghani, left, president of Afghanistan, and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

As the U.S. troop withdrawal accelerates, President Biden will welcome Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation, at the White House on Friday.

Our thought bubble: Axios politics editor Glen Johnson, who traveled to Afghanistan while working for Secretary of State John Kerry, said inviting both Ghani and Abdullah to Washington shows the administration’s respect for the delicate balance of power in the country.