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Attorney General Merrick Garland will meet with top executives from CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post on Monday, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed, after it was revealed that prosecutors for the Department of Justice sought email and phone records for journalists at the news outlets.
The Trump administration under then-AG William Barr initially requested the records, but the Biden administration continued the practice.
The requests for records were part of leak investigations, with the DOJ seeking to uncover who leaked information to the journalists whose records it requested. The journalists themselves were not targets of the investigation, but the secretive nature of the requests (which included gag orders forbidding lawyers at the Times and CNN from discussing the requests with colleagues or the reporters being targeted) was extremely controversial when made public in recent weeks.
Garland’s meeting is likely meant to assuage concerns about the DOJ’s policies going forward.
In a statement about the investigations, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “As appropriate given the independence of the Justice Department in specific criminal cases, no one at the White House was aware of the gag order until Friday night.”
“While the White House does not intervene in criminal investigations, the issuing of subpoenas for the records of reporters in leak investigations is not consistent with the President’s policy direction to the Department, and the Department of Justice has reconfirmed it will not be used moving forward,” she added.
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