President Obama had “no knowledge” that the Justice Department obtained two months of Associated Press reporters’ phone records, his spokesman said today.
“Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement today. “We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department. Any questions about an ongoing criminal investigation should be directed to the Department of Justice.”
The Associated Press reported today that “the government seized the records for more than 20 separate telephone lines assigned to AP and its journalists in April and May of 2012,” including the main AP line in the House of Representatives Press Gallery.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt said in a statement. “These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
The DOJ U.S. Attorney’s Manuel states that “the Attorney General’s authorization is normally required before the issuance of any subpoena to a member of the news media or for the telephone toll records of a member of the news media,” as The Washington Examiner’s Philip Klein noted today.