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DoJ under Trump issued subpoena to obtain reporter’s phone records

By Gino Spocchia
Getty Images

The Department of Justice under former President Donald Trump reportedly issued a subpoena to obtain a reporter’s phone number amid a review of the administration’s border policy on child separation.

The Guardian reported on Thursday that Stephanie Kirchgaessner, its investigative correspondent in Washington DC, had her phone number handed over to former US President’s justice department (DoJ) without her or her employer knowing.

The newspaper said it had asked the DoJ for an explanation after a freedom of information request revealed the subpoena on Thursday. Subpoenas are very rarely issued for reporters.

It came in the wake of articles about a DoJ review of the Trump administration’s border policy on child separation, with estimates suggest saw 3,000 minors separated from adults.

The DoJ’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, was in charge of the review into the policy. A report was published in January 2021 which found the department “failed to effectively prepare for and manage the policy’s implementation”.

Prior to that report, The Guardian,The New York Times and NBC News were handed information by DoJ officials about the ongoing probe into the Trump policy. The leaks were the subject of an internal review that saw Ms Kirchgaessner’s phone number subpoenaed.

More than 100 calls between DoJ officials and Ms Kirchgaessner viewed by the department as evidence. Another 130 calls were identified as being with a phone number associated with The Guardian .

Katharine Viner, The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, said in a statement on Thursday that it was “an egregious example of infringement on press freedom and public interest journalism by the US Department of Justice”.

“We will be asking the DoJ urgently for an explanation for why and how this could have occurred, and for an apology,” she continued. “We will also be seeking assurances that our reporter’s details will be erased from DoJ systems and will not be used for any further infringements of press freedom.”

The revelations came after a reporter, Jason Leopold, submitted a freedom of information for documents related to the DoJ’s investigation into the leaks from its review of Mr Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy on the southern border.

It comes after Politico reported on Wednesday that an employee from the DoJ inspector general’s office “abruptly resigned” after bering connected to the same probe into media leaks.

The Independent has approached the DoJ for comment.

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Dive Deeper:
DOJ secretly issued subpoena to access Guardian reporter’s phone records
Newspaper decries ‘egregious’ move by DoJ to obtain details of Stephanie Kirchgaessner as part of investigation into media leaks
Biden administration issued subpoena for details of Guardian reporter’s phone
It was previously unclear if the order came from the Trump White House as the inquiry had spanned both presidents’…
Trump DOJ's secret subpoena revealed
Justice Department targeted reporter's phone records after leak about Trump's child separation policy
Justice watchdog staffer resigned amid leak probe over Trump family separation report
DOJ Inspector General ordered investigation into who disclosed report about border policy.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
First Thing: first war crimes trial in Ukraine begins
Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old Russian commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, is charged with murdering a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian
Will House coup plotters face justice?
Rep. Scott Perry was up to his eyeballs in the Trump plot, and remains defiant. Will he really get away…
Get all your news in one place