Biden: ‘Simply wrong’ for Trump DOJ to seek journalists’ phone records

President Biden
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President Biden on Friday vowed that his administration would never seize the phone records of journalists after it was disclosed that the Trump administration secretly obtained the records of CNN and Washington Post reporters.

Biden, following a press conference with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, told reporters at the White House it was “absolutely, positively” wrong to seize reporters’ communications.

“I won’t let that happen,” he said during a brief Q&A with journalists after the official press conference ended.

CNN reported Thursday that the Department of Justice (DOJ) informed its Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, that prosecutors obtained email and phone records from two months in 2017, including from her personal and work correspondence.

The CNN report followed a Washington Post article saying the DOJ under former President Trump secretly obtained phone records for three of its journalists, reportedly in an effort to uncover sources for a story in 2017 on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The reports drew condemnation from press freedom advocates, and reporters have in recent days asked the Biden administration whether it would rule out a similar practice.

“This president is committed, strongly, to the rights of the freedom of press, as you have seen for decades, and to standing up for the rights of journalists,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters earlier Friday. “And the Justice Department conveyed yesterday that they intend to meet with reporters to hear their concerns about recent notices. And they, certainly, intend to use the ‘Holder model’ as their model — not the model of the last several years.”

But journalists noted that former Attorney General Eric Holder had also pursued leak investigations aggressively during the Obama administration. When pressed on that, Psaki deflected questions to the DOJ.

Tags DOJ Donald Trump Eric Holder Jen Psaki Joe Biden journalists phone records reporters
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