Trump DOJ’s widespread assault on press freedom only now receives close attention

the New York Times Wednesday was informed that Trump’s Justice Department in 2020 had secretly obtained the phone records of four Time reporters in an attempt to identify their sources, the third disclosure of these Trump-era practices in recent weeks. “The seizure of journalists’ telephone records seriously undermines press freedom”, editor-in-chief Dean Baquet said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources on which we depend to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing.”

Last month three Washington post journalists and a CNN reporter were also told by the Justice Department that it secretly seized their communication files last year for several months in 2017 as part of an investigation into the publication of classified information . To the Time, a spokesperson for the department said “that” members of the media have now been informed in each case of “the leakage investigations of the period 2019-2020 in which their files were sought,” the newspaper reported on Wednesday. evening.

Biden’s Justice Department, headed by Merrick Garland, told the newspaper that last year law enforcement officials under Trump obtained phone logs spanning nearly four months in 2017 for several Time journalists—Matt Apuzzo, Adam goldman, Eric Lichtblau, and Michel schmidt– who reported at the time of the then FBI Director’s investigation into the leaks 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 recordings; this was also the case for the To post journalists.

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The DOJ under the presidency Barack obama aggressively deployed subpoenas and made unprecedented use of the espionage law to attempt to uncover journalists’ sources in investigations into the leaks, controversial seizures that sparked bipartisan outcry and led the attorney general at the time Eric Holder modify the ministry’s guidelines for criminal investigations involving the news media.

Among these reforms was the obligation, in most cases, for the Ministry of Justice to inform the media outlets concerned before record seizures. But the Time, as the To post and CNN, is only now, years later, learning the moves – despite the fact that the Obama-era presumption of prior notification has remained in place throughout the Trump administration, one that has skillfully carried the torch of his successor’s so-called war on leaks. On Twitter, Goldman, whose files were secretly seized in 2013 while working for the Associated Press, Noted he had been targeted by both as he asserted his commitment to such work:

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freedom of the press defenders and members of the media called the president Joe biden, who recently denounced last month’s revelations about the Justice Department’s seizure of files as “just plain bogus” and vowed he “won’t let that happen”, to provide more transparency on such tactics and commit to strengthen the protection of journalists’ data. “There is an urgent need to hear the Attorney General speak to the three Trump-era document seizures, including the alleged reasoning behind them and the rationale for not informing 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 “declared commitment” of the current Justice Ministry 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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