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Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former President Trump's Justice Department in 2017 secretly obtained the phone records of three Washington Post reporters, the newspaper revealed Friday.

Between the lines: The reporters — Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller and Adam Entous — at the time were looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

  • They each received a letter from the DOJ earlier this week informing them that the department had been monitoring their phone calls from April 15 to July 31, 2017.

The big picture: The Post said that these types of action from the DOJ is "rare" and require approval from the attorney general.

  • "The letters do not say precisely when the reporters’ records were taken and reviewed, but a department spokesman said the decision to do so came in 2020, during the Trump administration," the Post writes. At the time, William Barr was attorney general.
  • The phone records include the numbers of the calls and how long each call lasted, but do not include what was said.
  • The letters do not specifically mention why the phone records were obtained, but during the three-month period the reporters wrote a story on how in 2016 former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had discussed Trump's campaign with Sergey Kislyak, a Russian ambassador.

What they're saying: "We are deeply troubled by this use of government power to seek access to the communications of journalists. The Department of Justice should immediately make clear its reasons for this intrusion into the activities of reporters doing their jobs, an activity protected under the First Amendment," Washington Post executive editor Cameron Barr said.

The other side: A DOJ spokesperson told the Post the department's decision to subpoena the reporters' phone records was an investigative step needed to see who were the individuals providing the newspaper with "national defense information."

Go deeper

3,000 unruly passenger reports made to FAA this year

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Airlines have reported some 3,000 cases of unruly behavior by passengers to the Federal Aviation Administration this year — including 2,300 for refusing to comply with face mask mandates, the FAA announced Monday.

Why it matters: Passenger numbers remain below pre-pandemic levels. But the FAA is investigating the highest number of suspected federal law violations since it began recording unruly passenger incidents in 1995, per ABC News.

Cashier killed after face mask policy dispute in Georgia grocery store

An Atlanta area grocery store cashier was killed and three other people were injured in a shooting following a dispute over a face mask policy in the supermarket Monday, police said.

Driving the news: DeKalb County Sheriff Melody Maddox said during a news conference that the female cashier was working at the Big Bear Supermarket in Decatur when she was shot following a "confrontation" over the wearing of masks.

House panel to investigate Trump-era DOJ data seizures

Photo: James Devaney via Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee will launch a formal probe into the Trump-era Justice Department's seizure of data from devices belonging to members of Congress, their aides, journalists and then-White House counsel, panel chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced Monday.

Why it matters: Though it's so far unclear if the cases are related, they raise "serious constitutional and separation of power concerns," Nadler said in a statement.