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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GOP Launches Witch Hunt Demanding Investigation Into Highly-Respected University Professor’s Tweets
Republicans in Virginia are demanding that University of Virginia President James E. Ryan open an investigation into tweets by Center for Politics founder Dr. Larry Sabato.
“A reasonable taxpaying citizen can readily conclude that Dr. Sabato is demonstrating the rankest form of bitter partisanship,” Virginia GOP Chair Rich Anderson wrote in a letter printed on Republican Party of Virginia letterhead.
“In order to have faith in our institutions, it is essential that Virginians hold accountable those public employees and officials who violate institutional values, codes of conduct, and other guidelines of professional behavior.”
A spokesperson for the university said Sabato has done nothing wrong.
“There is nothing in our Code of Conduct that limits University employees from engaging in expression that is protected under the First Amendment,” the spokesman said.
Anderson complained about eight tweets by Sabato. The first noted Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.
It is a disgrace that Trump became the first major-party presidential candidate since the 1970s to avoid releasing his tax returns. This critical information should have been available for voters to consider in 2016. Never again! #TrumpTaxReturns https://t.co/5liLizaGGw
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) September 27, 2020
The second tweet concerned Trump’s fact-free approach to presidential debates.
CANCEL THE REMAINING PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES. It is impossible to have an orderly, productive exchange with Donald Trump. Stop pretending otherwise. #Debate2020
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) September 30, 2020
The third tweet was in the context of Trump hoping to bring back executions by firing squad while facing accusations of extreme tax fraud. It was in the comments of a Daily Beast story.
It’s just amazing to me that I am reading this! Is there not a person that will find a law against this! @LarrySabato
— Wahoo UVA (@uvaseg) November 30, 2020
Extreme tax fraud deserves a firing squad.
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) November 30, 2020
The fourth tweet questioned Trump’s sanity after he released a 46-minute video pushing his “Big Lie” of voter fraud.
Cuckoo, cuckoo! Does the plush presidential suite at Walter Reed offer psychiatric treatments? Maybe time to helicopter Trump over again. https://t.co/rpMkk2mVuE
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) December 3, 2020
The fifth tweet praised a return to normalcy “after 4 years of the bizarre and disturbing.”
I’m watching President-elect @JoeBiden‘s press conference. It’s so refreshingly NORMAL. After 4 years of the bizarre and the disturbing, we really are going to have a return to normalcy.
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) December 4, 2020
The sixth tweet returned to the question of Trump’s mental health in the context of the delusional conspiracy theory that he will be “reinstated” as president in August in violation of the Constitution.
Of course it’s true. Trump, who governed on the edge of insanity for four long years, has gone over the edge. Yet millions of people and 90%+ of GOP members of Congress, still genuflect before this false god. https://t.co/MQ6LarvR2F
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) June 3, 2021
The seventh tweet concerned Glenn Youngkin, who is worth hundreds of millions after working as the co-CEO of the private-equity firm The Carlyle Group. Youngkin is now running for governor of Virginia.
I wonder if @GlennYoungkin is still “honored” to have received Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement for VA Governor?
Trump told chief of staff Hitler ‘did a lot of good things’, book says | Donald Trump | The Guardian https://t.co/EdnKiUIjyJ
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) July 7, 2021
The final tweet the GOP believes should result in an investigation concerned Trump’s choice of music at his campaign-style rallies.
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) June 27, 2021
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
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