President Biden on Friday declared that he would not allow his Justice Department to seize journalists’ phone or email records, calling the practice “simply wrong.”
At the White House, a reporter asked Biden about federal law enforcement taking such records and whether the president would “prevent your Justice Department from doing that.” Biden joked with the reporter, then grew serious, saying: “Absolutely, positively it’s wrong. It’s simply, simply wrong.” “So you won’t let your Justice Department do that?” the reporter asked. “I will not let that happen,” the president responded. Biden’s declaration follows recent disclosures that during the Trump administration, the Justice Department reportedly secretly sought the records of four journalists, three for their work at The Washington Post and one for her reporting at CNN.
Biden’s statement would seem to block the Justice Department from sifting through reporters’ records in leak investigations and other cases, at least while he is in office. That could curtail federal law enforcement’s ability to pursue those who reveal classified information, although under existing policy, prosecutors were supposed to pursue all other means before trying to sweep up any reporter’s communications [Washington Post].
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POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE WASHINGTON POST
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