US Justice Dept says it will no longer seize reporters’ records in leak investigations

A view of a podium emblemed with the United States Department of Justice logo.

The Department of Justice said on Saturday that it would no longer seek source information from reporters in leak investigations after recent revelations that former President Donald Trump’s administration had secretly obtained phone and email records from a number of journalists.

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

The New York Times reported that the Justice Department under presidents 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.

Last month, Biden said he would not allow his Justice Department to seize the phone or email records of reporters, saying any such move would be “simply wrong.”

“DOJ has now completed a review to determine all instances in which the Department had pending compulsory requests from reporters in leak investigations,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement.

“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,” Coley added.

Trump had a contentious relationship with the press, often publicly lambasting reporters and their outlets as “fake news.”


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