The Department of Justice has ended its practice of obtaining reporters’ records, claiming that it “values a free press.”
The US Department of Justice has declared that it will halt its long-standing controversial practice of surreptitiously obtaining journalists’ records during leak investigations, following President Joe Biden’s recent commitment to do so.
The DOJ “will not seek compulsory judicial procedure in leak investigations to get source information from members of the news media performing their jobs,” according to Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley.
In a second statement announcing the Justice Department move, Coley said, “The department highly appreciates a free press, defending First Amendment ideals, and is dedicated to taking all required efforts to guarantee the independence of journalists.”
Subpoenas and court orders have historically been used by White House administrations of both parties to seek reporter’s records in an effort to discover sources who may have exposed classified government information.
Biden stated last month that the investigation strategy was “absolutely, utterly wrong” and that his government would not allow it to continue.
The announcement was made The New York Times reported on their own legal struggle with the Justice Department the day before, when it covertly obtained data on four of the newspaper’s reporters. The DOJ’s pursuit of the four reporters’ emails began during Trump’s presidency and continued under Biden’s.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki claimed on Saturday that the present administration was unaware until Friday night that federal officials had issued a gag order against The New York Times. They couldn’t talk about the ongoing legal dispute over the four reporters’ emails because of the gag order.
News organizations, reporters, and legal ethics experts praised the announcement, despite the fact that the practice had long been denounced as a violation of First Amendment rights.
“This implies that in leak investigations, the DOJ will not be able to get reporter’s records in secret. Good pro-first-amendment policy that encourages freedom of the press. Biden’s Justice Department has begun sharing material concerning what appears to be a political abuse of the investigative strategy by Trump’s administration. Elections are important,” said Joyce Alene, a professor at the University of Alabama Law School and a legal expert for MSNBC.
Federal authorities are demanding the internet addresses and phone numbers of everyone who saw an article during a specific 35-minute window of time in a separate ongoing legal battle between the FBI and USA Today. This is a condensed version of the information.