(PatriotWise.com)- In a stunning shift in policy, the Biden Justice Department announced on Saturday that, when investigating illegal leaks to the press, it will no longer seek to obtain the private phone records of the reporters who obtain the leaked information.
It was not uncommon for DOJ officials to secure phone records of the journalists who reported on leaked information. The news media has criticized this practice for decades.
In a statement announcing the change in policy, DOJ spokesman Anthony Coley explained that the Justice Department had completed a review of all the instances in which such requests for phone records were pending, and the DOJ has notified all the reporters involved.
Going forward, Coley went on, when investigating illegal leaks the Justice Department will no longer seek “compulsory legal process” against reporters whom Coley described as “doing their jobs.”
According to Coley, this change in policy was made at the direction of President Biden.
This decision came on the heels of reports that New York Times executives and reporters were under a gag order over the DOJ’s efforts to obtain phone records from some of its reporters. The gag order was allegedly put in place to prevent the ongoing investigation from going public.
Press secretary Jen Psaki, touting the “independence of the Justice Department,” claimed on Saturday that nobody in the White House knew that the Department of Justice has issued this gag order until the New York Times revealed it on Friday.
The investigation into the New York Times, which began in the waning days of the Trump Administration, involved the infamous Comey memos leaked to the press in 2017. The leak of these memos set off the chain of events that resulted in the 2-year Mueller investigation into the so-called “Russian collusion.”
The DOJ targeting reporters is not new. JFK routinely employed the FBI, DOJ and even the CIA to investigate reporters who published articles on Soviet missile systems.
During the Obama Administration, Reason Magazine was subpoenaed by former US Attorney (and current Anti-Trumper) Preet Bharara who was seeking the IP addresses of those writing comments on a 2015 Reason article.
In April, the Biden DOJ subpoenaed USA Today requesting similar IP information for specific readers who commented on an article about the February Florida shootout in which two FBI agents were killed.