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Washington has been served up an unprecedented controversy, and now officials from two branches of government are rushing to get a piece of the scandal spoils.

Driving the news: In the spotlight... the Trump-era Justice Department, which seized records from journalists and House Democrats during a leaks investigation over stories about the Russia probe.

  • Now Senate Democrats and the Biden-era Justice Department inspector general are separately launching investigations.

Back in 2017 and 2018, the DOJ obtained a gag order against Apple and subpoenaed the company to hand over data belonging to a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee.

The big picture: "While Justice Department leak investigations are routine, current and former congressional officials familiar with the inquiry said they could not recall an instance in which the records of lawmakers had been seized as part of one," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • The seized records contained no proof of leaks.

Michael Schmidt, one of four reporters on the N.Y. Times blockbuster, told "Andrea Mitchell Reports" on MSNBC:

"This is the first instance we know the Justice Department has done this. There could have been other leak investigations. We don't have full visibility into all of them. Those are conducted in secret.""Regardless of what went into the Justice Department's decision here, this is exactly what [then-President Trump] was calling for publicly and privately at a time that he was putting as much pressure as possible on the folks at the top of the department."

The bottom line: The slow drip, drip of stories has now turned into the potential big story of the summer.

Go deeper

Updated Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schumer demands Barr and Sessions testify over DOJ’s targeting of House Democrats

Former Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called on former Attorneys General Bill Barr and Jeff Sessions Friday to testify over the Trump Justice Department's secret subpoenas for data belonging to House Democrats.

Driving the news: At least a dozen people linked to the House Intelligence Committee had records seized between 2017 and early 2018, as part of the Justice Department's crackdown on media leaks related to the investigation into potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Schiff calls for investigation after NYT report on seized data by Trump DOJ

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. Photo: Tom Williams / Getty Images

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) called for an inspector general investigation into Donald Trump's "weaponization of law enforcement," after the New York Times reported the Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for data from the congressman's account.

Driving the news: At least a dozen people linked to the Intelligence Committee had records seized between 2017 and early 2018, including Schiff, who at the time was the panel's top Democrat and now serves as its chairman, The Times reported, citing people briefed on the inquiry.

Mike Allen, author of AM
Jun 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Schiff, Swalwell confirm Trump DOJ secretly seized records in leak probe

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), a member of the committee, were notified last month that the Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Apple records about them in 2017-18, in what Schiff called "a body blow to our democracy."

Driving the news: Schiff and Swalwell spoke on CNN after the N.Y. Times revealed that as part of a leak investigation, the Justice Department subpoenaed, and received, Apple metadata (records but not actual content) for at least a dozen House Intelligence Committee members, aides and family members. One was a minor.