To say it would be a shock to hear of President Joe Biden or anyone in his administration agreeing with Donald Trump on anything that the former president did during his tenure in the White House would be a massive understatement. But it appears the unthinkable just became reality.
According to the Washington Examiner, Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) is defending the Trump administration’s actions in obtaining the phone records of journalists in an effort to identify the culprits of unauthorized leaks.
Seizing phone records
Leaks of government information to the press wreaked havoc on Trump’s administration, which is why it’s unsurprising that the former president’s DOJ aggressively pursued the matter.
Recently, a DOJ official notified three national security reporters that their phone records had been secretly retrieved last year via subpoenas, the Examiner said; however, the official reportedly made clear that it was the leakers who were the target — not the reporters.
While it remains unclear why the three journalists’ phone records were seized, the records in question were said to have pertained to a time period early in Trump’s tenure, as reporters dug into claims that the then-president’s campaign had shared sensitive information with Russia.
Specifically, the seized phone records spanned from April 2017 and July 2017. At that time, the journalists reportedly published stories centered around allegations that then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) shared sensitive information with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to Washington.
The Trump administration stood firm on its denial that any sensitive information was shared with Russia or any agents of the American adversary.
A last resort?
A spokesperson for the Biden DOJ has now reportedly defended the previous administration’s decision to obtain the phone records, but alleged that it was done as a last resort and that the reporters in question weren’t ever in any trouble.
“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,” Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi said, according to the Examiner.
“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,” Raimondi added.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki was quizzed on seizures Wednesday, but quickly shut the question down by deferring to actions already taken by Biden’s DOJ.
“Given this was an action taken by the last administration, and the Department of Justice who oversees, obviously, our legal actions have already spoken to it, I’m not going to have anything additional to add,” Psaki said, as the Examiner reported.