WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said it was “simply, simply wrong” for the Justice Department to obtain the telephone and email records of journalists, after reports that the department had obtained the records of several reporters during the Trump administration.
“I will not let that happen,” Biden told reporters at the end of a White House news conference on Friday evening when asked if he would allow the department to seize records from journalists.
He was not asked specifically about the most recently disclosed case, that of CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. The network reported on Thursday that the Justice Department had secretly obtained her phone and email records from June and July of 2017. The report did not say why the department wanted the records, when the investigation was opened, or who was attorney general when that decision was made.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported the department got telephone records and attempted to get the email records of three of its reporters who were looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The three reporters, Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller and Adam Entous, who now works for The New Yorker, were informed of the inquiry in letters from the department, the Post said, adding that the records were from calls made on work, home and mobile phones from April 15 to July 31, 2017.
The letters, according to the Post, did not say when the department approved the move to get the records, but a department spokesman told the paper that it occurred last year, when William Barr was attorney general. The letters also did not say why the Justice Department sought the records.
The department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday night.
Story by Jordan Fabian and John Harney.