A source with knowledge of the FBI investigation confirmed news of the probe to TPM, saying it's been launched in part because of Rep. Peter King's (R-NY) high-profile letter calling for an investigation.
"The department does not comment specifically on investigations, though anytime we see evidence of wrongdoing, we take appropriate action," DOJ spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler told TPM in a statement. "The department has received letters from several Members of Congress regarding allegations related to News Corp. and we're reviewing those."
A report by the U.K.'s Daily Mirror said that a former New York City police officer, who is now a P.I., claimed that News Of The World reporters asked him to get the phone records of dead British victims of 9/11, from the days before the attacks.
"This investigator is used by a lot of journalists in America and he recently told me that he was asked to hack into the 9/11 victims' private phone data," a source for the Mirror said. "He said that the journalists asked him to access records showing the calls that had been made to and from the mobile phones belonging to the victims and their Ârelatives."
"His presumption was that they wanted the information so they could hack into the relevant voicemails, just like it has been shown they have done in the UK," the source added. "The PI said he had to turn the job down. He knew how insensitive such research would be, and how bad it would look."
King and Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) called on FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate the allegations.
Full coverage of the scandal here.
Additional reporting by Ryan Reilly.