The Trump administration secretly obtained the phone and email records of CNN’s Pentagon correspondent, the news network reported Thursday, the latest evidence of the former president’s efforts to target journalists who reported government leaks during his tenure.
CNN said Thursday that the Justice Department sought and obtained the records of Barbara Starr for a two-month period between June 1, 2017, and July 31, 2017. The DOJ informed Starr earlier this month that it had targeted her Pentagon extension, the CNN phone booth in the building and her home and cellphones, as well as her personal and professional email accounts.
Starr is a veteran journalist who has worked at CNN since 2001. During the time covered as part of the records seizure, Starr had been working on stories about the U.S. military’s options in North Korea and stories about Syria and Afghanistan. She was never the target of an investigation, CNN added.
She confirmed the news on Twitter later Thursday. It’s unclear why her phone and email activity were targeted, but The Washington Post later reported that the effort to obtain the records was approved in 2020, citing a Justice Department spokesperson.
“All of CNN will do what we do everyday around the world. The Pentagon Press Corps will do the same,” Starr wrote after the revelations were published (the messages are now publicly unavailable after Starr locked her account). “We are not leaving, not stopping. We are ALL staying and reporting the news.”
CNN President Jeff Zucker condemned the act and said the network would immediately demand to meet with the Justice Department for an explanation.
“CNN strongly condemns the secret collection of any aspect of a journalist’s correspondence, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” Zucker said Thursday, according to CNN.
The report is the latest to detail former President Donald Trump’s aggressive tactics to punish anyone responsible for leaks coming from within his administration.
Earlier this month, The Washington Post said the Justice Department had secretly obtained the phone records of three of its reporters for a 3½-month period, also in mid-2017. The journalists had covered the FBI’s Russia investigation.