DOJ Access to Journalists’ Phone Records Is Ruled Out by Biden

DOJ Access to Journalists’ Phone Records Is Ruled Out by Biden

WASHINGTON—President Biden said he wouldn’t allow his Justice Department to gain access to journalists’ phone and email records.

“Absolutely positively it’s wrong,” he told reporters at the White House on Friday. “It’s simply, simply wrong.”

Mr. Biden’s comments come after CNN and the Washington Post said the Justice Department had informed their reporters that the Trump administration sought and obtained reporters’ phone records from 2017, prompting objections from the news outlets and press-freedom organizations.

Asked if he would prevent his Department of Justice from seizing records of journalists, Mr. Biden said, “I will not let that happen.”

After notifying the reporters, the Justice Department acknowledged this month that prosecutors had sought and obtained the records in 2020. Under Justice Department guidelines from the Obama administration, prosecutors are required to give a media organization notice about such requests.

Then-Attorney General

Eric Holder

tightened the rules governing such requests in 2013 after similar controversies related to the seizure of the phone records of reporters at the Associated Press and others during the Obama administration.

In 2017, at the start of the Trump administration, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions promised to launch a crackdown on leakers of classified information and said the Justice Department would review policies on subpoenaing news organizations.

In a statement provided to reporters Thursday, Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said, “The records at issue relate to 2017, and the legal process to seek these records was approved in 2020.” He didn’t comment further on the matter.

Mr. Coley added that the Justice Department leadership would soon meet with reporters to hear their concerns about this issue and further convey Attorney General

Merrick Garland’s

“staunch support of and commitment to a free and independent press.”

Write to Andrew Restuccia at andrew.restuccia@wsj.com and Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Source: WSJ – US News

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