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Justice Department quietly seized Washington Post Reporters phone records During Trump era

Illustrations for the article entitled Department of Justice Quite Taken from Washington Post Reporters & # 39;  Phone Records During the Trump Era

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The Justice Department quietly took the phone records and tried to get e-mail recordings for three Washington Post reporters, apparently in terms of its coverage of then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the role of the Russia in the 2016 presidential election, according to government officials and letters reviewed by in Post.

Department of Justice regulations typically they require news organizations to be notified when they call such records. However, even though the Trump administration accepted the decision, officials apparently left the notification part for the Biden administration to deal with. I guess they never came around. Probably too busy to inspire an insurrection and try to overthrow the presidential election.

In three separate letters dated May 3 addressed to journalists Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller and former journalist Adam Entous, the Justice Department wrote that they are “notified because of the legal proceedings that the Department of Justice U.S. Justice has received toll records associated with telephone following numbers for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017, ”according to the Post. Listed were Miller’s work and phone numbers, Entous’s phone number, and Nakashima’s work, phone, and home phone numbers. These records included all calls from and to the phones, and how long each call lasted but did not reveal what was said.

According to the letters, the Post reports that prosecutors have also secured a court order to seize “communications records that are not contained” for journalists ’email accounts, revealing that he sent an email to whom and when the emails were sent but not their content. However, the latest officers have not obtained these records, the outlet said.

“We are deeply troubled by this use of government power to seek access to journalists’ communications, ”said Cameron Barr, acting editor-in-chief. “The Department of Justice should immediately explain its reasons for this intrusion into the activities of journalists doing their job, activities covered by the First Amendment.”

Frustratingly, the letters apparently did not enter why the Department of Justice took these data. A department spokesman told the outlet that the decision to do so was made in 2020 during the Trump administration. (It should be noted that former President Donald Trump has made it clear that he despises the media and government speakers who provide him with their credentials.)

Based on the time period cited in the letters and what journalists have been dealing with over the past few months, the Post speculates that its investigations into the Sessions and Russian interference could be because the department wanted to get its hands on the their phone data.

During that time period, the three journalists were published a story detailing the federal correspondence indicating then-Sen. Sessions in Alabama had discussed the Trump campaign in 2016 with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States at the time. At the same time, journalists he also wrote about how the Obama administration struggled to counter Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Sessions, which later served as Trump’s attorney general from 2017 to 2018, were held a press conference in August 2017, just four days after the time period mentioned in the letters, where he pledged to step up efforts to suss out and prosecute government speakers.

“This culture of filtration must stop,” Sessions said at the time.

For the Department of Justice to cite the records of journalists, it must have exhausted all possible avenues of obtaining this information and secured the approval of the attorney general, in accordance with the regulations of the agency. Friday, Department of Justice spokesman Marc Raimondi told the Post that it is considering a last resort that the agency does not take lightly:

“Although rare, the Department follows the procedures set forth in its policy of media guidelines when seeking a legal process to obtain telephone toll records and e-mail records without content from members of the media as part of a criminal investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.The objectives of these investigations are not the recipients of the media, but rather those who have access to the national defense information they have provided to the media and they have failed to protect it as legally required. ”

However, the news provoked a fierce condemnation from media organizations, who claimed that the actions of the Department of Justice could have violated the First Amendment. Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Committee of Journalists for Freedom of the Press, called it “imperative” that the Justice Department explain its reasoning and why the agency is just now notifying the Post months after the decision was made. dam.

“It is imperative that the new leadership of the Department of Justice explain exactly when prosecutors have seized these records, because it is only now notifying the Post, and on that basis the Department of Justice has decided to waive the presumption of advance notice in their own guidelines when the investigation apparently involves a report on three years in the past, ”he said a statement issued Friday.

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