The Trump administration alleged national security concerns about the leaks the reporters received, but let’s face it – we know they were trying to expose who had links between a Trump campaign advisor who became Trump cabinet secretary and the Russian ambassador licked. And those efforts came amid a broader pattern of the Trump Department of Justice, which acted as the personal law firm for the Trump family and allies like Nunes.
“We are deeply concerned about this use of governance to gain access to communications from journalists,” Post’s Cameron Barr told Politico in early May. “The Justice Department should immediately clarify its reasons for this interference with the activities of reporters doing their job, an activity protected by the first amendment.”
“Now, for the second time in about as many weeks, we have seen these revelations that the DOJ has received recordings, without prior notice from the journalist or the news organization, to allow the reporter to deny what the DOJ is seeking. “Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters’ Committee on Freedom of the Press, told CNN.
“Twice we saw in the previous administration that they used this avenue towards the end of their tenure to break into the very heart of news-gathering,” he added. “It is deeply worrying and the new DOJ team now has a real imperative to explain very quickly to these newsrooms and to explain to press freedom advocates what happened and how it happened and why it happened and what they can do to ensure that this does not happen again in this administration and in future administrations. “
After the Washington Post case came to light, but before the CNN case, Congressional Democrats called on Attorney General Merrick Garland for responses:
“Department management will soon be meeting with reporters to hear their concerns about the recent announcements and to convey Attorney General Garland’s full support and commitment to a free and independent press,” a Justice Department official said in a statement to CNN .
But while the Biden administration – with a focus on May – can curb these abuses without tighter guard rails in place, the next Republican administration will likely look at what Team Trump got away with and use that information to calibrate how far they go can still go go. It won’t be many iterations before freedom of the press is truly a myth, along with the democracy that Republicans are seeking at the same time as their ongoing attacks on the 2020 elections.