Washington Post reporters’ records secretly obtained by Trump DOJ: report

The Trump administration covertly gained access to the phone records of three WaPo reporters surrounding their reporting on Russian meddling in the 2016 election

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The phone records of three Washington Post journalists were obtained by the U.S. Department of Justice during the Trump administration in connection to their reporting into Russia’s role in the 2016 election, the news outlet said Friday.

In an article detailing the operation, WaPo reports the Justice Department also tried to retrieve the reporters’ email history to no avail.

Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, current WaPo reporters, and Adam Entous, who left the organization in late 2017, were each addressed in separate letters that the DOJ had acquired their respective work, home and cell phone records over a three-month span in 2017.

A sign for the Department of Justice as seen on January 12, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images)

The May 3 letters said the subjects were “hereby notified that pursuant to legal process the United States Department of Justice received toll records associated with the following telephone numbers for the period from April 15, 2017 to July 31, 2017,” as reported by WaPo.

Also included in the letter is news that prosecutors received a court order to access the reporters’ work email accounts in order to receive “non content communication records,” but the desired records were not obtained.

READ MORE: Woman who entered Capitol may have stolen Pelosi device to sell to Russians: FBI

Russia’s involvement with the Trump campaign during the 2016 election had been under heavy investigation by both the media and special counsel Robert Mueller. According to CNN, the Mueller investigation uncovered that Paul Manafort, former President Donald Trump‘s ex-campaign manager, along with deputy manager Rick Gates gave Russian-linked intelligence operative Konstantin Kilimnik internal polling documents.

In 2019, due to Mueller’s investigation, Manafort was found guilty of tax and bank fraud, and was sentenced to four years in prison, as reported by NPR.

A spokesman for the Justice Department, Marc Raimondi, justified the move to attain the reporters’ records as a move of last resort, despite the DOJ’s tactics being adverse to the First Amendment’s decree of freedom of the press.

“While rare, the Department follows the established procedures within its media guidelines policy when seeking legal process to obtain telephone toll records and non-content email records from media members as part of a criminal investigation into unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” Raimondi said. “The targets of these investigations are not the news media recipients but rather those with access to the national defense information who provided it to the media and thus failed to protect it as lawfully required.”

READ MORE: Russia’s Putin congratulates Biden on winning U.S. election

Last month, President Joe Biden announced financial sanctions against Russia. As reported by the New York Times, Biden took action after Russia has made numerous attempts to interfere with American elections as well as hack government and private networks.

The sanctions came a month after theGrio reported that Biden spoke of a conversation he had with Russia President Vladimir Putin about meddling with American elections.

“He will pay a price,” Biden said.

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