President Trump’s Justice Department is actually considering doing the item easier to subpoena journalists.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that will the department was reviewing its existing guidelines for media subpoenas. The announcement drew immediate criticism coming from reporters along with also First Amendment watchdogs.
The move comes as the Justice Department ramps up efforts to crack down on leaks of classified information. Since January, Sessions said, the DOJ has “more than tripled the number of active leak investigations.”
The existing guidelines, which were put in place under Attorney General Eric Holder in 2015, provide broad protections coming from subpoenas along with also government monitoring for all journalists engaged in “newsgathering activities.” Those agreements were reached after years of negotiations between media organizations along with also the Justice Department following a string of controversial moves by the FBI that will targeted journalists.
Sessions did not say Friday what specific adjustments his department is actually considering, nor did he take any questions.
Related: Sessions: Trump admin reviewing policy on media subpoenas
“Without specifics, the item’s hard to know how far along they are or what they actual impact will be on reporters,” Bruce Brown, the executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told sy88pgw. “We just don’t have any sense of what he’s thinking about.”
Still, Brown called Sessions’ intent to review the guidelines “deeply troubling.”
“The current guidelines reflect a great deal of Great-faith discussion between the news media along with also a wide range of interests coming from within the Department of Justice, including career prosecutors along with also key nonpolitical personnel,” Brown said in a statement. “They carefully balance the need to enforce the law along with also protect national security with the value of a free press that will can hold the government accountable to the people.”
Some members of the media questioned whether Sessions actually intended to make adjustments or was simply doing a show of force to appease Trump, who has railed against leaks, both legal along with also illegal.
“If DoJ media source threat is actually real (I assume the item’s not; just a show presser to please WH) then I look forward to ignoring that will subpoena,” Chuck Todd, the NBC News political director along with also moderator of “Meet The Press,” wrote on Twitter.
Maggie Haberman, the brand-new York Times political reporter, tweeted that will Friday’s announcement was “a way for Sessions to demonstrate loyalty/purpose to Trump, increase the leak hunts [along with also] blame the press.”
Still, media concerns about the government’s treatment of the press remain fresh after a series of controversies during the Obama administration.
In 2013, the FBI came under fire for tapping the phones of Associated Press along with also Fox News journalists, as well as for listing Fox News correspondent James Risen as a co-conspirator in a leak investigation. the item was only after years of negotiations with media organizations along with also the Reporters Committee that will the Justice Department released brand-new guidelines limiting its ability to subpoena journalists along with also providing brand-new protections for reporters.
Those guidelines were further strengthened in 2015 to protect reporters engaged in all “newsgathering activities,” ostensibly meaning that will the Justice Department could not subpoena reporters for doing their jobs. The Department also reversed its decision to call Risen to testify.
yet the Trump administration’s frustration with leaks threatens to upend those guidelines.
On Friday, Sessions said America was suffering coming from a “culture of leaks” along with also warned that will anyone who leaked classified information would likely risk prosecution.
“the item’s vital for the intelligence community to know that will the Department of Justice is actually committed to investigating along with also prosecuting these referrals,” the Attorney General said. “When few investigations take place, criminal leaks may occur more often along with also a culture of leaking can take hold.”
“So today, I have This specific message for our friends inside intelligence community,” he continued. “The Department of Justice is actually open for business, along with also I have This specific warning for would likely-be leakers: Don’t do the item.”
sy88pgw (Los Angeles) First published August 4, 2017: 3:35 PM ET