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Photo: Tom Brenner-Pool/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland said Monday he has directed Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco to "evaluate and strengthen the department’s existing policies and procedures for obtaining records" from members of Congress.

Why it matters: At Garland's direction, the Justice Department's inspector general has opened an investigation into the Trump-era DOJ's use of secret subpoenas to obtain data belonging to House Democrats.

The big picture: At least a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee — including Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), both fierce critics of former President Trump — had records seized between 2017 and early 2018 as part of a leak investigation.

  • Democrats in Congress have launched their own investigations and demanded that former Attorney Generals Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions testify.
  • The inspector general will also review the Justice Department's secret seizure of phone records of journalists working for major media companies that reported on the Russia investigation, including CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post.

What they're saying: Garland said in a statement that in addition to the inspector general investigation, Monaco is "already working on surfacing potentially problematic matters" related to the subpoenas that deserve "high level review."

  • "There are important questions that must be resolved in connection with an effort by the department to obtain records related to Members of Congress and Congressional staff," he continued.
  • “If at any time as the investigation proceeds action related to the matter in question is warranted, I will not hesitate to move swiftly.”

Go deeper

Jun 14, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Reports: Trump DOJ subpoenaed Apple for records of WH counsel Don McGahn

Former White House counsel Don McGahn leaves Capitol Hill after a closed-door meeting with the House Judiciary Committee on June 4, 2021 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Apple told former Trump administration White House counsel Don McGahn last month that the Department of Justice secretly subpoenaed information about accounts of his in 2018, the New York Times first reported Sunday.

Why it matters: Although it's unclear why the DOJ took the action, such a move against a senior lawyer representing the presidency is highly unusual.

Pelosi demands Barr and Sessions testify on data subpoenas

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an event San Francisco, California, on Friday. Photo: Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told CNN Sunday that former Attorneys General William Barr and Jeff Sessions should testify before Congress on reports that the Trump-era Department of Justice seized Democrats' and journalists' data records.

Driving the news: DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced Friday an internal investigation into the matter, and Pelosi expressed disbelief to CNN's Dana Bash at assertions that neither Barr nor Sessions knew of probes into lawmakers.

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

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