During the final days of then-Attorney General William Barr
, the Justice Department
under former President Donald Trump
attempted to seize the email records of three Washington Post reporters, according to the publication on Tuesday.
According to newly unsealed court documents, the DOJ
filed a court order to obtain the records on Dec. 22, 2020, the day before Barr stepped down as attorney general, as a final attempt to determine the source of classified leaks
to the media
Barr was looking for information on the following articles all about Russia
A May 2017 report on Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner
, and his interactions with the then-Russian ambassador
to the US, Sergey Kislyak.
An article published in June 2017 about the Obama administration's efforts to combat Russian election
A story from July 2017 about discussions between then-Sen. Jeff Sessions
(R-AL) and Kislyak.
The articles were written by reporters Adam Entous, Greg Miller, and Ellen Nakashima, and the DOJ announced in May that it had obtained the trio's phone logs.
The Washington Post
's latest discovery adds to Trump's aggressive efforts to crack down on leaks from within his administration. News
outlets such as The New York Times
, the Post, and CNN
have all said in recent months that their reporters were secretly targeted by the DOJ, which seized phone and email records from members of the media at various points during his presidency
The DOJ began informing journalists
about the seizures earlier this year, prompting President Joe Biden
to call for an end to obtaining journalists' phone and email records. The DOJ is currently working on new regulations that would limit how officials can hunt for the sources of classified leaks, according to the Post.
According to the Washington Post and The New York Times, government prosecutors initially sought to keep the specifics of the Trump administration
's request secret, without acknowledging the stories under investigation
; however, the judge
in the case disagreed.
“A sealed matter is not generally, as the government persists in imagining, ‘nailed into a nondescript crate, stored deep in a sprawling, uncataloged warehouse,” wrote Judge Zia Faruqui in his decision, citing the final scene of the 1981 film “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”