While Donald Trump was still president, the Department of Justice obtained the phone records of Washington Post journalists from their time covering Russia’s 2016 election interference, the newspaper revealed on Friday.
“We are deeply troubled by this use of government power to seek access to the communications of journalists,” Cameron Barr, thePost’s acting executive director, said in a statement. “The Department of Justice should immediately make clear its reasons for this intrusion into the activities of reporters doing their jobs, an activity protected under the First Amendment.”
In letters to threePost reporters, the Justice Department said they were “hereby notified that pursuant to legal process the United States Department of Justice received toll records associated with the following telephone numbers for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017.”
The letters then listed the reporters’ work, home, and cell phone numbers.
Throughout his time in office, Mr Trump obsessively defended himself from accusations that he had colluded with Russia to secure his 2016 election victory. In the process, he attempted to discredit much of the mainstream news media as “fake news.”
It is not yet clear whether the monitoring of the Post was part of that effort.
According to the newspaper, the request for the reporters’ phone records – and an unsuccessful request for their email records – occurred in 2020, when William Barr was still attorney general. The Post said Mr Barr had not yet responded to their request for comment.
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