Investigating leaks began with Obama
The Washington Post
The Justice Department’s seizure of a reporter’s phone and email records is an overt threat to every journalist covering the Trump administration, said Margaret Sullivan. Last week, investigators seized years’ worth of phone and email records from Ali Watkins of The New York Times and arrested her alleged source, a former staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “No one should be surprised” at this intrusion into press freedom, because Trump’s Justice Department had a “clear blueprint to follow—courtesy of Barack Obama.” Obama’s Justice Department used the Espionage Act, “an arcane century-old law,” to pursue leakers on nine different occasions. Investigators subpoenaed telephone records from Associated Press journalists, and named Fox News reporter James Rosen a “co-conspirator” in a leak about North Korea’s nuclear program. Worst of all, they traced calls and emails from Times reporter James Risen, who nearly went to prison for refusing to give up a source at the CIA. Late in his second term, Obama backed off the “unsavory” pursuit of reporters’ confidential sources. But he set “a dangerous precedent.” President Trump has openly talked of locking up reporters—and leak investigations may be how he does it.