The Justice Department during Donald Trump's presidency secretly seized recordings of telephone conversations of four journalists from The New York Times, who published material about the investigation of former FBI Director James Comey. The information about this became known after the official notification of the Biden administration, the publication reports this.
“The Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of four New York Times reporters spanning nearly four months in 2017 as part of a leak investigation,” the statement says.
The Justice Department did not say which article was being investigated. But the lineup of reporters and the timing suggested that the leak investigation related to classified information reported in an April 22, 2017, article the four reporters wrote about how James B. Comey, then the F.B.I. director, handled politically charged investigations during the 2016 presidential election.
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, condemned the action by the Trump administration. “Seizing the phone records of journalists profoundly undermines press freedom,” he said in a statement. “It threatens to silence the sources we depend on to provide the public with essential information about what the government is doing… We expect the Department of Justice to explain why this action was taken and what steps are being taken to make certain it does not happen again in the future.”
Earlier, it became known that the Trump Justice Department secretly seized the phone records of three Washington Post reporters who covered the federal investigation into ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.