The publisher of The Washington Post said the Department of Justice has “intensified the government’s attack on First Amendment rights” under President Joe Biden.
Fred Ryan wrote in his paper Sunday evening that the Biden Justice department not only kept pursuing Trump-era battles against reporters and outlets, but expanded them. Earlier this year, the Biden DOJ won a judge’s approval for a gag order against The New York Times, preventing the newspaper from publicly revealing its legal battle with the federal government over its reporters’ records. Ryan wrote:
After Biden took office, the department continued to pursue subpoenas for reporters’ email logs issued to Google, which operates the New York Times’ email systems, and it obtained a gag order compelling a Times attorney to keep silent about the fact that federal authorities were seeking to seize his colleagues’ records. Later, when the Justice Department broadened the number of those permitted to know about the effort, it barred Times executives from discussing the legal battle with the Times newsroom, including the paper’s top editor.
This escalation, on Biden’s watch, represents an unprecedented assault on American news organizations and their efforts to inform the public about government wrongdoing.
Ryan also said The Washington Post has yet to hear back from the Biden DOJ on subpoenas submitted under former President Donald Trump for the records of several Post reporters.
“To date, no answers have been provided and the meeting has yet to take place. This delay is troubling,” Ryan wrote. “When asked about how the president’s assurances can be squared with his Justice Department’s behavior, White House press secretary Jen Psaki could offer no explanation. She subsequently released a statement disavowing White House knowledge of the actions that appear to have continued for several months during Biden’s presidency.”
Biden’s apparent war on the press comes after he publicly disavowed Trump for seeking to subpoena reporters’ records, calling it “simply, simply wrong.”
Ryan continued: “The inconsistency between presidential words and Justice Department deeds dictates the need for full accountability and transparency regarding the actions taken by the exiting Trump Justice Department and those of the incoming Biden administration. A full accounting should be produced and released for the American public to see.”
“Anything less would be simply, simply wrong,” Ryan said.
The Trump administration probe into The New York Times began on January 5 in the last days of Trump’s presidency, ostensibly to find out who leaked sensitive government information to reporters at the paper. The Trump administration asked a judge to force Google to turn over Times reporters’ email data.
The Biden administration later sought a gag order in the case, preventing high-level Times employees from learning about the federal government’s request and preventing the Times from sharing the ongoing legal fight with the public. As The Daily Wire reported:
Such requests — launched to find out which administration officials leaked sensitive national security information to the media — amount to about one “case a year,” said Washington Post national security reporter Devlin Barrett. But the issuance of a gag order has reportedly never taken place before March.
“It’s completely unprecedented for the Justice Department to seek and obtain a gag order in a leak investigation,” Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a lawyer who assisted the Times with its negotiations, told The Washington Post. “It adds insult to injury for the government to seek to muzzle the news organization fighting to protect its sources.”
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