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Carl Bernstein: AP phone subpoena 'outrageous, totally inexcusable'

“It is outrageous, totally inexcusable,” Bernstein told MSNBC. “This administration has been terrible on this subject from the beginning. The object of it is to intimidate people who talk to reporters. This was an accident waiting to become a nuclear event, and now it’s happened. There’s no excuse for it whatsoever. There’s no reason for this investigation, especially on this scale.”

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Bernstein went on to blast a White House statement denying knowledge of the subpoena as "nonsense."

It is known to the president of the United States that this is the policy,” Bernstein said. “To say there was no knowledge in, quote, specifically about this in the White House is nonsense. This is a policy matter and this does go to the president.”

Monday night, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president was "not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department."

“Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP,” Carney said.

In a letter of protest sent to Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, AP President Gary Pruitt said there could be “no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications.”

“These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” Pruitt said.

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia said it was “always careful and deliberate” in deciding to target media organizations.