CNN’s lead attorney revealed this Wednesday that the Trump administration battled with the network for half a year to obtain the email record of a reporter, and demanded that it all be done in secret.
In July of 2020, then-Attorney General William Barr demanded two months’ of CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr’s 2017 email logs. According to CNN, the pursuit represented “a highly unusual and unrelenting push for journalists’ records,” which included “putting CNN general counsel David Vigilante under a gag order prohibiting him from sharing any details about the government’s efforts with anyone beyond the network’s president, top attorneys at CNN’s corporate parent and attorneys at an outside law firm.”
While CNN acknowledges that it’s not uncommon for a media organization to be subpoenaed for a reporter’s records, what stands apart “is the total secrecy that surrounded the order, the months-long court proceeding and the Trump administration’s unwillingness to negotiate.”
Read the full report over at CNN.
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Trump’s DOJ Covertly Collected Award Winning CNN Reporter’s Email and Phone Records: Report
On Thursday, CNN reported that the Justice Department, under former President Donald Trump, secretly collected email and phone records from a CNN reporter, without notifying either the reporter or the news organization.
“The Justice Department informed CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, in a May 13 letter, that prosecutors had obtained her phone and email records covering two months, between June 1, 2017 to July 31, 2017,” reported Jeremy Herb and Jessica Schneider. “The letter listed phone numbers for Starr’s Pentagon extension, the CNN Pentagon booth phone number and her home and cell phones, as well as Starr’s work and personal email accounts.”
“The seizure of Starr’s records is the third disclosure in as many weeks where the Trump administration used its Justice Department to secretly obtain communications of journalists or to expose the identity of critics of former President Donald Trump’s allies,” continued the report.
Starr reportedly was not the target of a criminal investigation.
“CNN strongly condemns the secret collection of any aspect of a journalist’s correspondence, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” CNN President Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “We are asking for an immediate meeting with the Justice Department for an explanation.”
Under Trump, the Justice Department was frequently controversial for its attitude towards the press. At his confirmation hearing, Attorney General William Barr stumbled over a question about whether he would use the DOJ to imprison journalists.
Bill Barr Should Lose Law License Over Devin Nunes Scandal: Impeachment Lawyer
Legal experts sounded the alarm after a bombshell court filing was unsealed showing the Department of Justice under Bill Barr attempted to use a secret grand jury subpoena to learn the identity of a parody account on Twitter that is critical of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).
“The Justice Department under President Trump secretly obtained a grand-jury subpoena last year in an attempt to identify the person behind a Twitter account dedicated to mocking Representative Devin Nunes of California, according to a newly unsealed court document. But Twitter fought the subpoena, as well as an associated gag order barring the company from talking about it publicly. Twitter executives raised skepticism about whether the Justice Department might be abusing federal criminal law-enforcement power to retaliate against a critic of Mr. Nunes, a Republican who is a close ally of Mr. Trump, in violation of the First Amendment,” The New York Times reportedMonday.
The subpoena was withdrawn after Biden took office, but the new documents show Twitter blasting the subpoena.
“It appears to Twitter that the Subpoena may be related to Congressman Devin Nunes’s repeated efforts to unmask individuals behind parody accounts critical of him. His efforts to suppress critical speech are as well-publicized as they are unsuccessful,” Twitter wrote in a motion opposing the unmasking of the author. “Given Congressman Nunes’s numerous attempts to unmask his anonymous critics on Twitter—described in detail herein—Twitter is concerned that this Subpoena is but another mechanism to attack its users’ First Amendment rights.”
“Over the past two years, Congressman Nunes and his campaign committee have brought at least nine lawsuits—including in this district—against individuals, the media, and one research and intelligence firm for either their disagreement with his political actions and policies, publishing statements that Congressmen Nunes deemed critical of himself, or hosting critical statements with which Congressman Nunes disagreed,” the social media company argued.
The account in question said it was about “silencing” critics.
There’s nothing remarkable about me. I’m a basic smartass with a Twitter account.
So then why am I being sued by a US congressman? Why would the DOJ ever target me?
Is it the mean tweets and bad memes?
It’s not about me or this silly account. It’s about silencing all of us. https://t.co/kdU87LVZI2
— Devin Nunes’ Alt-Mom (@NunesAlt) May 17, 2021
Legal experts blasted Barr’s DOJ for the subpoena. Former Southern District of New York Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Signorelli called for an investigation of the Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) who signed subpoena.
This outrageous subpoena was issued by AUSA Michael J. Friedman. He should have refused the assignment. Instead, he now needs to be investigated. https://t.co/JLghuylbMX
— Richard Signorelli (@richsignorelli) May 18, 2021
Michael Friedman may not be the only attorney facing investigations over the subpoena.
Former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman, who served as the majority counsel in Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, said Barr should lose his license to practice law.
What possible basis could Barr’s DOJ have to issue this subpoena? This appears to be Barr using the awesome power of a grand jury subpoena as a personal favor to a political ally. Barr should not have a law license anymore. https://t.co/8womLNdtFo
— Daniel Goldman (@danielsgoldman) May 17, 2021
Watch: Trump Threatens to ‘Put Down Very Quickly’ Democrats Who Take to the Streets in Protest if He Wins Re-Election
President Donald Trump promises to “put down” Democrats who choose to exercise their First Amendment rights to protest in the streets if he wins re-election.
“We’ll put them down very quickly if they do that. We have the right to do that. We have the power to do that, if we want,” Trump told Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in a taped interview that will air Saturday, as Politico reports.
“Look, it’s called insurrection,” the president added. “We just send in, and we do it very easy. I mean, it’s very easy. I’d rather not do that because there’s no reason for it, but if we had to, we’d do that and put it down within minutes.”
For months Trump has been deploying into American cities paramilitary SWAT teams of federal secret police with no insignias or name badges, armed with assault weapons, who have been tear gassing U.S. citizens protesting police killings of unarmed Black people.
Included among these highly-armed elite tactical agents are members of the U.S. Border Patrol’s BORTAC unit who receive “enhanced Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification,” The New York Times has reported. These “officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.”
Watch the president:
Fox & Friends teases Jeanine Pirro's Trump interview on Saturday with a bit where Pirro says hypothetically, "they're gonna threaten riots" on election night. Trump suggests using the Insurrection Act to "put them down very quickly. … Just send in and we do it very easy." pic.twitter.com/deIMpOJcCw
— Bobby Lewis (@revrrlewis) September 11, 2020
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