He told lawmakers last month that the new policy would be the “most protective of journalists’ ability to do their jobs in history,” the Wall Street Journal reported. In past years, when other options were no longer available, prosecutors used subpoenas and court orders to obtain reporters’ data in leaks investigations, according to recent reports.
Exceptions include cases where the action could “prevent an imminent risk of death or serious personal injury” or a foreign agent or member of a foreign terrorist organization is involved, according to the memo. He said the Justice Department and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco would consult with stakeholders and support legislation that codifies protections into law.
Without legislation, any rule set by the Garland Department of Justice could be reversed by future administrations, the WSJ reported. The first policy was used to investigate the Associated Press, Fox News and government officials.
Former Obama Administration Attorney General Eric Holder issued guidelines that prosecutors must follow before obtaining subpoenas and search warrants against journalists, which required them to give a notice to the media organization. before issuing a subpoena unless the attorney general determined that the warning could interfere with the investigation, the WSJ reported.
In 2017, Jeff Sessions, who was Attorney General at the start of the Trump administration, pledged to limit the sharing of classified information and said the department would look into policies on suing news organizations, the WSJ.
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