The Trump-led U.S. Justice Department went on a mission to retrieve email records for three Washington Post reporters just one day before former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr resigned from his post. Now, newly unsealed court documents are explaining the reason for his departure.
According to The New York Times, the Biden administration's effort to disclose the requests led to the unsealing of the documents. The publication reports that the DOJ previously submitted a 12-page application to the court requesting the email records for the three Washington Post reporters who wrote the articles: Adam Entous, Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima.
The request seeking journalists' records, which was submitted on Dec. 22, was one of his last initiatives while still in office. The publication reports that the move was "part of a major escalation by the Trump administration during its final weeks in power of a yearslong campaign to crack down on leaks of classified information to the news media."
The court documents indicated that the government said, "Congress requested access to highly classified information in 2017 as part of a congressional inquiry. The Post on two occasions subsequently published "information that was contained within the classified materials that had been made available to select congressional personnel."
During that time frame, the Trump DOJ also requested records for New York Times reporters. Amid the disclosures, President Joe Biden has made it clear that the Justice Department will no longer be allowed to "use subpoenas and court orders to obtain such data in hunts for confidential sources."
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland is also expected to release documentation to all federal prosecutor offices detailing the extent of the newly implemented ban. In addition to the efforts to seek reporters' records, the Justice Department's inspector general is also focused on uncovering leak investigations involving efforts to obtain records for Congressional members and their staff.