REVEALED: Trump’s DOJ sought emails of three Washington Post reporters just a day before Bill Barr resigned as AG
- DOJ sought a court order Dec. 22, 2020 for reporters’ email and phone information
- Revelation follows disclosures this spring that DOJ sought info on reporters from two other outlets
- It was part of a leak hunt following disclosures on contacts with Russia’s former ambassador to the U.S.
- Barr told the Atlantic last month he clashed with President Trump over his election fraud claims, which he called ‘bull****’
- The report notes classified information was made available to Congress before it was made public
The Justice Department under former attorney general Bill Barr sought three journalists’ phone and email records as part of its intensive leak hunt – seeking a court order the day before Barr resigned his post in the final weeks of the Trump administration.
The disclosure, revealed by a judge overseeing the case Tuesday, adds to revelations in weeks about the scope of government efforts to monitor journalists as part of its effort to identify sources of leaks.
The proposed order was submitted December 22, 2020 – the day before Barr resigned following reported clashes with Trump over his election fraud claims.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr resigned a day after the Justice Department sought a court order for phone and email information on three Washington Post reporters
It was signed by U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin, and sought information on three Washington Post reporters.
The DOJ was seeking information about three newspaper reports – all dealing with Russia and its election interference efforts, as well as Trump-world contacts with Russia’s former ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak.
One story included a May 2017 Washington Post report about Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s effort to set up a secure line of communications between Trump’s transition and Moscow. It cited intercepts of Russian communications.
Other reports included a June 2017 story on the outgoing Obama administration’s on Russian election interference, and a July 2017 on still more Kislyak contacts, this time involving former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Huffington Post reported on the unsealed order.
The Justice Department was hunting for leakers following disclosures about Trump-world contacts with former Russian ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak
The DOJ sought information on the reporters the day before Barr resigned
The order sought by the government asked Proofpoint Corporation, a data company, to provide information on three Washington Post reporters
A May 2017 newspaper report on Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s conversations with Russia’s former ambassador was part of the leak probe
It said the reporters disclosed ‘classified national defense information.’ The proposed order also notes that the classified information was made available to Congress in April 2017, and that portions were ‘thereafter’ published in the media.
The reporters whose phone and email records were being sought are the Post’s Adam Entous, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima, whose bylines appear on the stories. DOJ revealed it had obtained their phone records in May. The logs reveal information about phone numbers someone may have talked to, but not the contents of those calls.
President Biden called to cease the practice of going after reporters’ records, and AG Merrick Garland met with media execs after disclosures that the government sought information on reporters for the Post, the New York Times, and CNN. In each case, the reporters were not informed of the move because the orders were kept under seal to telecommunications companies and lawyers. The government only revealed the secret orders to obtain information in May.
The order extended to data security firm Proofpoint Corporation, the Washington Post noted, in an indication of the efforts the government went to as they sought the information.
Barr told the Atlantic last month that he clashed with President Trump in a December meeting over the president’s election fraud claims. Barr said of the claims: ‘It was all bull****.”
Trump DOJ sought journalist email records just a day before Barr resigned