White House condemns Trump’s call to jail journalists after Supreme Court Dobbs leak

‘Calling for egregious abuses of power in order to suppress the Constitutional rights of reporters is an insult to the rule of law’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Friday 20 January 2023 16:18 GMT
Related video: Supreme Court report: ‘Unable to identify’ Dobbs opinion leaker

The White House has condemned Donald Trump’s call for journalists to be jailed after the Supreme Court leak of the Dobbs ruling, overturning Roe v Wade and constitutional abortion rights last year.

The former president reacted to the announcement by the top US court that an investigation lasting months had been unable to find out who leaked a draft of the opinion overturning Roe to Politico.

Mr Trump wrote on Truth Social that “they’ll never find out, & it’s important that they do. So, go to the reporter & ask him/her who it was. If not given the answer, put whoever in jail until the answer is given. You might add the publisher and editor to the list”.

Mr Trump added that authorities should “stop playing games” because such a leak mustn’t be allowed to take place.

“It won’t take long before the name of this slime is revealed! Arrest the reporter, publisher, editor – you’ll get your answer fast. Stop playing games and wasting time!” he said.

The White House pushed back on Friday, issuing a statement saying that “the freedom of the press is part of the bedrock of American democracy. Calling for egregious abuses of power in order to suppress the Constitutional rights of reporters is an insult to the rule of law and undermines fundamental American values and traditions”.

“Instead, it's the responsibility of all leaders to protect First Amendment rights. These views are not who we are as a country, and they are what we stand against in the world,” the White House added.

Reporters can’t be sent to jail for releasing a leaked Supreme Court opinion under US law, and they cannot be detained as a way to force them to reveal their sources except under extraordinarily rare conditions.

Mr Trump has previously called for reporters to be reprimanded for publishing information he believes to be less than ideal for him.

When several outlets reported that he was taken to a White House bunker during civil rights protests in Washington, DC in 2020, he was reported to have argued that the journalists breaking the news should be put on trial for treason.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court released a report on the investigation into the leak of the draft opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito in the case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The report stated that the source of the leak hadn’t been identified. Politico reporters Josh Gerstein and Alexander Ward got the scoop last spring.

Republicans and right-wing media were enraged by the leak and Mr Trump also suggested previously, in June, that the court “go to the reporter” to locate the source, The Hill noted.

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