Trump Justice Dept. seized phone records of 4 NYT reporters

Trump Justice Dept. seized phone records of 4 NYT reporters

Trump Justice Dept. seized phone records of 4 NYT reporters

But the same intrusive tactics of the last four years were also employed during the Obama administration, which secretly seized phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors during a leak investigation in 2013 and also labeled a Fox News reporter a co-conspirator in a separate leak probe.

DOJ said it had completed a review of the instances in which it had been seeking reporters' records as part of leak investigations, and informed the reporters involved.

The newspaper said the records that were seized covered a almost four-month period in 2017 and belonged to reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt.

The Justice Department did not disclose which article it was investigating, according to the newspaper. After the most recent revelation - that the Justice Department in the Trump administration had secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters - White House press secretary Jen Psaki reaffirmed the commitment to freedom of the press.

Democratic and Republican administrations alike have used subpoenas and court orders to obtain journalists' records in an effort to identify sources who have revealed classified information. That tussle had begun during the Trump administration but had persisted under the Biden Justice Department, which ultimately moved to withdraw the gag order. The investigation is still ongoing, the Times reports, though federal prosecutors had concluded by November 2020 that the FBI failed to find evidence to support charging Comey.

"Going forward, consistent with the President's direction, this Department of Justice - in a change to its longstanding practice - will not seek compulsory legal process in leak investigations to obtain source information from members of the news media doing their jobs", department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.

"CNN strongly condemns the secret collection of any aspect of a journalist's correspondence, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment", CNN president Jeff Zucker said in a statement.

President Joe Biden has said he would not allow the Justice Department to continue the practice of obtaining reporters" records, calling it "simply, simply wrong'.

CNN and the Washington Post previously reported that the Trump administration had secretly tried to obtain the phone records of some of their reporters over work they did in 2017.

The journalists are neither the subjects nor the targets of the investigation, Coley said.

Amid blowback, former Attorney General Eric Holder announced guidelines for leak investigations that among other things required sign-off by the highest levels of the department for subpoenas of journalists' records.

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