The United States Justice Department, now under President Joe Biden, recently admitted to the New York Times that the Department of Justice, while under the reign of disgraced former President Donald Trump secretly obtained the phone records of four different NYT reporters, just shortly after the real estate “mogul” and reality TV washup took office in 2017.
According to Justice Department officials, four months’ worth of phone records, from Jan. 14 to April 30, 2017, were secretly seized from NYT reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau, and Michael Schmidt. The Times report noted that the DOJ did not specify which articles the secret seizure was in relation to, but that reporters were focused on FBI Director James Comey and his handling of the FBI’s investigations during the 2016 presidential election at the time the phone records were obtained.
Officials said that the government, under the reign of Trump, also had a court order that allowed them to obtain the email logs of the NYT journalists, the contents of the emails not included, but reportedly didn’t obtain any of those records in the end.
Just last month CNN reported that the Trump Justice Department had secretly seized both phone and email records from their Pentagon correspondent in 2017. Also last month, the Washington Post released a similar report, saying that the Trump administration had secretly seized the phone records of three of their reporters back in 2017 when they covered the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
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In a statement, the executive editor for the Times, Dean Baquet, criticized the DOJ report.
“Seizing the phone records of journalists profoundly undermines press freedom,” he told the Times in his statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”
Washington Post Publisher Fred Ryan has requested that Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland meet with him regarding the disclosures, but the publication says that as of yesterday, nothing has been scheduled.
President Biden has promised the media that these secret seizures will not take place under his administration, calling the schemes “simply wrong.”
Featured image via Political Tribune gallery