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By Jan Wolfe
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Thursday requested documents from the Justice Department related to the Trump administration's seizure of phone records from lawmakers, journalists and the then-White House counsel as part of its investigations into leaks of classified information.
The House Democrats, led by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland requesting a wide range of documents before July 1.
The documents included any communications between the Justice Department and former President Donald Trump or White House staff relating to the opening of the leaks investigations.
The letter represented the first major public step in an investigation that Nadler announced on Monday.
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"The Committee is now engaged in an investigation of the Trump Administration’s surveillance of Members of Congress, the news media, and others," Nadler said in a statement on Thursday. "We must determine if the Department sought these sensitive records for improper political purposes."
The department's internal watchdog, Inspector General Michael Horowitz, last week said his office was also launching a review into whether "improper considerations" drove the leaks investigations.
The New York Times reported last week that under Trump the Justice Department subpoenaed Apple Inc for data on Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, both House Democrats from California.
Apple also told Donald McGahn, who served as White House counsel under Trump, that the department had subpoenaed information about him in 2018 and barred the company from telling him, the Times reported.
The Justice Department has also acknowledged seizing phone records for journalists from the New York Times, Washington Post and CNN.
Garland met on Monday with officials from those three news organizations to discuss the department's policies.
The Justice Department said on June 5 it would no longer secretly obtain reporters' records during leak investigations, a major policy shift that abandoned a practice decried by press freedom groups.
(Reporting by Jan Wolfe in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Matthew Lewis)