One of the reporters at the center of the Justice Department’s effort to obtain journalists’ email and phone records said she was “horrified” by the former administration’s assault on the First Amendment.
“I am genuinely horrified by what happened,” CNN journalist Barbara Starr wrote in an opinion piece posted Monday on the network’s site.
“All of this is a sheer abuse of power in my view ― first against CNN and myself, since our work is and should always be protected by the First Amendment. But more importantly and more significantly, it is an abuse against the free press in this country, whether you are a television network correspondent or a reporter at a small-town newspaper uncovering wrongdoing,” Starr added.
Starr, who has been CNN’s Pentagon correspondent for the past 20 years, spoke out about revelations that former President Donald Trump’s Justice Department secretly obtained subpoenas for information from Starr, reporters from The New York Times and The Washington Post and from House Intelligence Committee Democrats, their staff and families. The department was reportedly seeking the source of leaks about Trump and his administration’s links to Russia. Although content was not obtained by Justice officials, email and phone contacts were.
Starr said she had no knowledge that there were secret court proceedings against her in 2020 until last May when a gag order was lifted. At that time, she learned that the DOJ had initially demanded metadata of more than 30,000 of her emails and phone records — both professional and personal — from 2017.
In an interview that aired Monday, Starr said neither she nor CNN had any idea about why Justice officials had sought her emails.
“They wanted all of it and I was not even allowed to know about it,” she said. “It was a secret court.”
Starr called for strict legal barriers to any such actions in the future.
“Let’s have it in the law very clear,” she said.