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Trump's Justice Department seized phone records of four New York Times reporters

Trump's Justice Department seized phone records of four New York Times reporters”

Later in May, the Justice Department revealed the previous administration had also secretly obtained phone and email records from 2017 of CNN's pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.

The US Justice Department under presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden waged "a secret legal battle to obtain the email logs of four New York Times reporters", including a gag order on executives, the newspaper reported on Friday.

The Times quoted Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley as saying the department under Biden had moved repeatedly to delay enforcement of the order and it then "voluntarily moved to withdraw the order before any records were produced". Though Biden's comments in an interview were not immediately accompanied by any change in policy, a pair of statements from the White House and Justice Department on Saturday signaled an official turnabout from an investigative tactic that has persisted for years.

The Justice Department said Wednesday that it secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters previous year as part of a leak investigation, the latest revelation of surveilling journalists by the Trump administration.

The journalists are neither the subjects nor the targets of the investigation, Coley said. But the lineup of reporters and the timing suggested that the leak investigation related to classified information reported in an April 22, 2017, article the four reporters wrote about how James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, handled politically charged investigations during the 2016 presidential election.

The Justice Department says it has now concluded notifying the media organizations whose phone records were accessed.

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But the department preserved its prerogative to seize journalists' records, and the recent disclosures to the news media organizations show that the practice continued in the Trump-era Justice Department as part of multiple investigations.

The decision would mark a break from Democratic and Republican predecessors alike, whose administrations have seized reporter call logs in an effort to identify sources of classified information.

He told a reporter last month that seizing journalists' records was "simply, simply wrong" and that the practice would be halted under his watch.

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.

Holder's DOJ had changed guidelines for obtaining records during criminal leak probes, and added additional hurdles, but had not ended the practice.

The Trump administration announced a crackdown on leaks in 2017 as part of an aggressive stance.



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