Trump’s DOJ’s sweeping attack on press freedom is only in focus now
the New York Times Wednesday was informed that Trump’s Justice Department in 2020 had secretly obtained the phone records of four Time journalists in a bid to identify their sources, the third such disclosure of Trump-era practices in recent weeks. ‘Seizure of journalists’ phone records is a serious attack on freedom of the press,’ editor-in-chief says Dean Baquet said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with vital information about what the government is doing.”
Last month, three Washington Post reporters and a CNN reporter were also told by the Justice Department that it secretly seized their communication records last year for several months in 2017 as part of an investigation into the publication of classified information . To the Time, a department spokesperson said “that” members of the news media have now been notified in all cases “of the 2019-2020 leak investigations in which their records were sought”, said the newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Biden’s Justice Department, led by Merrick Garland, told the newspaper that last year, law enforcement officials under Trump obtained the phone logs covering nearly four months in 2017 for several Time journalists—Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau, and Michael Schmidt– who at the time reported to the leak investigation to the then FBI Director James Comey. The current Justice Department also revealed that Trump’s DOJ obtained a court order to seize Time e-mail logs with no content from journalists, but got no record; this was also the case for the To post journalists.
The DOJ under the President barack obama aggressively deployed subpoenas and made unprecedented use of the Espionage Act to try to uncover journalists’ sources as part of investigations into leaks, controversial seizures that caused a bipartisan outcry and led the then Attorney General Eric Holder modify the ministerial directives relating to criminal investigations involving the news media.
Among these reforms was the obligation, in most cases, for the Ministry of Justice to inform the press organs concerned before the seizure of documents. But the Time, as the To post and CNN, only now, years later, does he learn of the changes — despite the fact that the Obama-era pre-notification presumption remained in place throughout the Trump administration, a presumption who skillfully carried the torch of the so-called war against the leaks of his successor. On Twitter, Goldman, whose records were secretly seized in 2013 while reporting for The Associated Press, Noted he had been targeted by both as he affirmed his commitment to such work:
freedom of the press defenders and members of the news media called the president Joe Biden, who recently denounced Revelations last month about DOJ record seizures were ‘simply, plain wrong’ and vowed it ‘wouldn’t let that happen’, to provide more transparency on these tactics and commit strengthen the protection of journalists’ data. “It is urgent that we hear from the Attorney General about the three Trump-era case seizures, including the alleged reasoning behind them and the reason for not notifying reporters in advance,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the Journalists Committee for Press Freedom, said in a statement, noting “this is a crucial first test” of the Justice Department’s current “stated commitment” to the free flow of information to the public. “The goal must be to ensure that such abuses never happen again.”
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