Leaders from CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post will meet with US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday to discuss former President Trump’s controversial White House leak investigation into reporter records from all three media outlets.
The planned meeting comes more than a week after The New York Times revealed Trump-era Department of Justice officials sought 2017 phone and email records of White House reporters from the three outlets, including CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr, and issued a gag order on CNN general council David Vigilante to keep the probe from being unveiled to the public.
CNN Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, who will be attending the meeting on Monday, provided details during Sunday’s broadcast of “Reliable Sources.”
Feist said Garland’s previous statement that the Biden Administration would never use the same media surveillance tactics as Trump’s DOJ officials isn’t enough to fix the problem.
“What we’re asking the attorney general tomorrow is to try to bind future administrations,” Feist said. “Don’t just send a memo. Change policy.”
Feist told CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter that the Trump DOJ gag order on Vigilante lasted 11 months. He said the three news organizations caught up in the probe weren’t chosen by accident.
“These are the organizations that were at the top of [Trump’s] list of enemies of the American people,” Feist said. “Whether Merrick Garland knows the details of how that came about, we don’t know, but we’re certainly going to ask.”
Feist pointed out that tomorrow’s meeting will take place one day after the 50th anniversary of The New York Times publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
“Our goal is to make sure that the Pentagon Papers and other stories of extraordinary public interest could be published in the future,” he said. “It is to protect the freedom of the press now and in the future.”