The US news media said that as part of the leak investigation, the Trump administration had secretly tried to obtain reporters’ records.
After the recent disclosure that the administration of former President Donald Trump secretly obtained the phone and e-mail records of journalists, the US Department of Justice stated that it would no longer secretly obtain records of journalists in leak investigations.
In a statement on Saturday, Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley stated that “change its long-standing practice” and that the department “will not seek compulsory legal procedures in leak investigations to obtain information from members of the news media who are engaged in work. Get source information”.
“The department attaches great importance to press freedom, protects the values of the First Amendment, and is committed to taking all appropriate measures to ensure the independence of journalists,” Coley said.
Earlier, US news media CNN and The Washington Post stated that the Trump administration had secretly tried to obtain telephone records of some reporters working in 2017.
The New York Times also reported on Friday that Trump and the Justice Department led by current U.S. President Joe Biden were engaged in “a secret legal battle to obtain the email logs of four New York Times reporters. “, including the ban on executives.
The newspaper said that the legal battle to obtain the e-mail logs of the four reporters began in the final weeks of Trump’s presidency and tried to reveal the sources of the reporters.
“Although the Trump administration has never informed the New York Times of this effort, the Biden administration continued to wage this struggle this year, and informed a small number of senior executives of the New York Times, but implemented a ban. Order to prevent it from being seen by the public,” the report said, citing Times lawyer David McGraw.
In separate statement On Saturday, the White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the White House did not know the gag order until Friday night.
“The issuance of a subpoena for the reporter’s record in a leak investigation is inconsistent with the president’s policy direction for the department, and the Justice Department has reiterated that it will not continue to use it,” Psaki said.
Biden said last month that the confiscation of journalists’ records was “completely wrong” and that his Justice Department would stop this practice.
Bruce D. Brown, executive director of the Free Press Correspondent Committee, said that he welcomes the Department of Justice’s policy changes, but there are still serious unresolved questions about what happened in these cases.
He said in a statement: “To ensure that this does not happen again, we look forward to working with the Biden administration to carry out additional policy reforms to further safeguard these basic rights.”
New York Times publisher AG Sulzberger said in a statement: “This is a welcome step to protect the ability of the press to provide the public with important information about what its government is doing.”
“However, there is more work to be done, and we are still waiting for an explanation of why the Department of Justice is so aggressively seizing journalists’ records.”
“Washington Post” executive editor Sally Buzbee (Sally Buzbee) said that the newspaper called on the Biden administration and the Department of Justice to “provide a complete description of the two-term government chain of events, and implement durable protection measures to prevent future recurrence. “.
Democratic and Republican governments have been using subpoenas and court orders to obtain journalists’ records tactics to seek to determine the source of confidential information.
As Justice Department officials reminded reporters from the Washington Post, CNN, and New York Times that their phone records were obtained during the Trump administration, this practice has been censored again in the past month.