Washington: US President Donald Trump’s Justice Department obtained phone records from The Washington Post’s journalists related to their reporting on Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 election, the newspaper said, citing government officials.
“The Trump Justice Department secretly obtained Washington Post journalists’ phone records and tried to obtain their email records over reporting they did in the early months of the Trump administration on Russia’s role in the 2016 election, according to government letters and officials,” Washington Post reporter Devlin Barrett wrote in an article published on Friday.
The Washington Post’s Acting Executive Editor, Carmeron Barr, said the news agency is troubled by the move.
“We are deeply troubled by this use of government power to seek access to the communications of journalists. The Department of Justice should immediately make clear its reasons for this intrusion into the activities of reporters doing their jobs, an activity protected under the First Amendment,” The Washington Post Acting Executive Editor Carmeron Barr said in a statement as quoted by the Post.
Federal investigators were trying to uncover proof of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, but ultimately uncovered no evidence of such a conspiracy.
The subpoenas to obtain the phone records were obtained last year as part of a criminal investigation into unauthorized disclosure of classified information by officials with access to national defense information, the report said on Friday citing a Justice Department spokesperson.
The report said that the Justice Department obtained three-and-a-half months worth of phone records from Washington Post reporters Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller, and former reporter Adam Entous. The Justice Department was investigating their reporting in 2017 related to the investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr declined to comment on the matter, the report added.