On Friday, President Joe Biden accidentally admitted on camera that he would be interfering with the Department of Justice to make sure that they cannot seize records belonging to reporters. The admission raises many ethics concerns.
“Would you prevent your Justice Department from doing that?” asked liberal hack CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins, referring to reporter’s records.
Biden replied by saying that the practice was “absolutely, positively wrong.”
“It’s simply, simply wrong,” Biden said.
Biden said, “I will not let that happen,” when asked if the Justice Department would be allowed to gather records.
Reporters and voices on Twitter quickly noted the ethics concerns in Biden’s statement.
“Great!” said journalist Yashar Ali on Twitter. “But I have a question, how can he promise this definitively while also promising to not interfere?”
Famous movie maker and commentator Mike Cernovich called out Biden for breaking from “democratic norms”: “President Biden admits that he personally directs DOJ actions and investigations, which is a violation of longstanding democratic norms re: DOJ’s independence.”
During a press conference last week, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was questioned about the Biden Administrations views on press freedom. Check out the exchange below:
REPORTER: Yes, I do. I’d like to ask about a couple of press freedom issues. On Friday, we learned that the Justice Department, last year, seized the phone records of several Washington Post journalists. The Biden Justice Department defended this, saying that it was the sources they were after, not the reporters.
But there are some press freedom advocates who are pretty concerned about that defense. Trevor Timm of the Freedom of the Press Foundation said that the Biden Justice Department gave a “disturbing defense” of the practice. Bruce Brown, the Executive Director of The Reporters for Freedom of the Press said that it “raises serious First Amendment concerns.”
Do you, as the government’s top press officer, have concerns about reporters’ records being taken, including in this instance?
PSAKI: Well, given this was an action taken by the last administration, and the Department of Justice who oversees, obviously, our legal actions has already spoken to it, I’m not going to have anything additional to add.
REPORTER: The second part on press freedom is — this marked — marks International Press Freedom Day, which was celebrated on Twitter by the secretary of state and the vice president —
REPORTER: — who wrote the “free press is critical to democracy.”
The whistleblower Edward Snowden responded by writing out, “This would be more persuasive if the White House [wasn’t] aggressively seeking a 175-year sentence for [a] publisher of award-winning journalism…” He’s referring to WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange.
The Obama-Biden administration was infamous for taking a heavy hand toward reporters and leaks, including taking the Associated Press’ call records and calling a Fox reporter a “possible conspirator.” But the Obama Justice Department decided not to prosecute Assange for fear of setting a precedent that could be used to prosecute journalists dealing with classified information.
In the name of press freedom, will President Biden be intervening in the Assange case to stop the prosecution? Or will he be allowing the Justice Department and the courts to sort this out?
PSAKI: Well, in the name of independent justice, we will allow the Justice Department — encourage the Justice Department to continue to be an independent Justice Department — which I know is different from what we saw over the last four years, so it feels funny to some people.
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