March 25, 2008— -- Justice Department prosecutors have met with State Department officials about the recent data breaches involving contractors who looked at the passport records of the three presidential candidates, Justice officials confirm to ABC News.
Late last week, the State Department acknowledged that several contract employees working for the department had accessed the passport files of presidential hopefuls Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain.
Attorneys from the department's criminal division met with officials from the State Department's inspector general's office Friday afternoon, after the breach was revealed publicly.
Justice Department officials say that a criminal investigation has not been opened at this time and a referral has not been sent by the State Department, but they have been briefed on the inspector general's review.
In a letter sent Tuesday, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. and Arlen Specter, R-Penn., asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey for the Justice Department to open an investigation.
"We ask that you take immediate action to look into this matter, and inform us what preliminary steps the department is taking to determine whether these passport file breaches involved the violation of federal laws," the senators wrote.
"The Justice Department should not wait to be handed 'a box full of evidence,' as you said at your recent briefing, before determining whether federal laws were broken."
At the Friday briefing with reporters, that the senators reference, Mukasey said, "There is an inspector general inquiry going on at the State Department, and absent everything else, we're going to await any reference or any other development … if somebody walked in here with a box full of evidence, that wouldn't be turned away," Mukasey said.
Asked about the inquiry from Congress and the meeting, Brian Roehrkasse, Justice Department director of public affairs, said, "After the attorney general's remarks on Friday, Justice Department prosecutors met with officials from the State Department inspector general's office on this matter, and are coordinating with the office of inspector general on its investigative efforts. Due to the ongoing nature of these efforts, the department will have no further comment at this time."