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out of the loop

Psaki says 'no one at White House' aware of Justice Department's gag order on NYT subpoenas

The Justice Department began an ultimately unsuccessful "secret legal battle" under the Trump administration to obtain the email logs of four New York Times reporters in the hopes of identifying their sources and continued it after President Biden took office, the Times reported Friday, citing David McCraw, a top lawyer for the paper.

The department finally told a "handful" of Times executives about the effort once Biden was in the office, but, in what McCraw described as an "unprecedented" move, officials imposed a gag order (which has been lifted by a federal court) on the situation "to shield it from public view."

On Saturday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said "no one at the White House was aware of the gag order until Friday night," explaining that the Justice Department acts independently "in specific criminal cases." She added that although the White House "doesn't intervene in … investigations, the issuing of subpoenas for the records of reporters … is not consistent with the president's policy direction to the department." 

Psaki noted that the Justice Department on Saturday confirmed it will halt the practice. Biden has previously said secretly seizing reporters' records was "simply, simply wrong," prompting some observers to ponder whether the change would have come about if CNN's Kaitlin Collins hadn't asked him to clarify his stance on the matter last month, Read more at The New York Times.