A shocking new revelation has been made that President Biden’s administration not only supported a secret legal effort to obtain the phone and email records of four New York Times reporters, but its Justice Department even went as far as imposing a gag order on the Times “to shield it from public view.”
The Times referred to the move by the Biden admin as one “unprecedented” in journalistic history.
This troubling news comes just a few weeks after President Biden called such records requests “absolutely, positively wrong,” adding, “I will not let that happen.”
On January 5, the Trump administration petitioned a court to obtain the reporters’ email information from Google, which provides the Times’ email services. The newly inaugurated Biden administration continued the probe adding their own twist to it.
“While the Trump administration never informed the Times about the effort, the Biden administration continued waging the fight this year, telling a handful of top Times executives about it but imposing a gag order to shield it from public view, said the lawyer, David McCraw, who called the move unprecedented,” the Times reported.
Google refused to turn over the records, the Times reported, “apparently demanding that the Times be told” about the Justice Department’s request, “as its contract with the company requires.”
On March 3, the Biden administration allowed the court to notify McCraw, but the judge said that he “may not share the existence or substance of either of these Orders with any other person without further approval from this Court.”
Over the next few weeks, McCraw said he was allowed to inform a handful of people, including the company’s legal team and publisher — but not Executive Editor Dean Baquet or other newsroom leaders, much less the public.
McCraw called the order “stunning,” saying, “it profoundly undermines press freedom.”
Such requests — launched to find out which administration officials leaked sensitive national security information to the media — amount to about one “case a year,” said Washington Post national security reporter Devlin Barrett.
The issuance of a gag order, however, has reportedly never taken place before Biden took office.
“It’s completely unprecedented for the Justice Department to seek and obtain a gag order in a leak investigation,” Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who assisted the Times with its negotiations, told The Washington Post. “It adds insult to injury for the government to seek to muzzle the news organization fighting to protect its sources.”
Meanwhile, the Biden administration released a statement claiming it knew nothing about its own DOJ’s activities until the media publicized them.
“No one at the White House was aware of the gag order until Friday night,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a statement released on Saturday.
The Biden administration’s deflection was not good enough for the mainstream media, including CNN’s Kaitlan Collins.
“This statement comes weeks after Biden told me he wouldn’t allow DOJ to seize reporters’ records and hours after a top lawyer for NYT revealed that DOJ, under Trump & Biden, sought to obtain email logs of reporters to identify their sources and bound executives by a gag order,” she tweeted.
CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out, “The gag order happened *under Biden* who to @kaitlancollins decried such DOJ searches.”
And the Times’ Washington correspondent, Maggie Haberman, reiterated, “Again, this gag was imposed by the Biden DOJ.”
Author: Ryan Kim