[WATCH] Trump’s DOJ Secretly Acquired Reporters’ Phone Records

The Trump Justice Department secretly obtained the phone records of four New York Times reporters as part of a leak investigation, the newspaper reported Wednesday. It is the third instance over the last month in which a news media organization has disclosed that federal authorities seized the records of its journalists in an effort to identify sources for national security stories published during Trump’s administration.

President Joe Biden has said he would not allow the Justice Department to continue the practice of obtaining reporters’ records, calling it “simply, simply wrong.”

US President Donald Trump listens to Attorney General Bill Barr(L) in the Oval Office at the White House after receiving a briefing from top law enforcement officials on operations against the MS-13 gang in Washington, DC, on July 15, 2020. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP) (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said the department notified the four reporters on Wednesday that it had obtained their phone toll records last year and that it had sought to obtain non-content email records as part of “a criminal investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of classified information.”

The newspaper said the records that were seized covered a nearly four-month period in 2017 and belonged to reporters Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau, and Michael S. Schmidt. Lichtblau has since left the Times.

The journalists are neither the subjects nor the targets of the investigation. “Forthcoming annual public reports from the Department covering 2019 and 2020 will indicate that members of the news media have now been notified in every instance in this period in which their records were sought or obtained in such circumstances,” Coley said.

The Justice Department did not disclose which article it was investigating, according to the newspaper. The period covered by the phone record seizure encompasses an April 2017 story from the four journalists that described the decision-making of then-FBI Director James Comey during the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, and that referenced a classified document obtained by Russian hackers.

Trump also did the same thing to a journalist at CNN and reporters at the New York Post in 2017.

Katie Benner from the New York Times joined MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson to talk about the phone records controversy. Watch the full segment, below.

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