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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.

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.