Attorney General Merrick Garland met with top executives at CNN, The New York Times and Washington Post Monday in the aftermath of revelations that gag orders were imposed while the Trump administration Department of Justice worked to seize emails of national security reporters. In a statement, the DOJ called the meeting a “productive conversation,” noting that media executives and Garland “agreed on the need for strong, durable rules.” During the discussion, the DOJ also made clear that reporters were never the subject or the target of the recent investigations, the statement said. Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said executives were “encouraged” by the meeting and “communicated in very blunt terms to DOJ leadership what an existential crisis that was for these organizations,” reported that Demers, “the longest-serving Senate-confirmed official from the Trump administration to remain at the Justice Department during the Biden presidency,” had been expected to leave the DOJ this summer even before controversy over leak investigations were revealed this month. The broadcaster CNN reported this week that its top lawyer was subjected to a gag order in 2020, when the DOJ under then-Attorney General Barr sought the email records of a national security correspondent. The New York Times and Washington Post were placed under similar orders, all reporting in recent weeks on efforts by the DOJ to seize journalists’ records as part of investigations into leaks of material. The Times reported that the department sought the reporters’ email logs in an attempt to identify their sources. Media experts and lawyers have condemned the DOJ’s actions. ‘Highly Offensive’ Gag Orders in Media Subpoena Cases, Lawyer SaysProminent US media outlets say Justice Department imposed gag orders on lawyers, executives while subpoenaing records from national security reportersUnder DOJ guidelines, the attorney general must sign off on a subpoena for reporters’ records, and any seizures of news records should be treated as “extraordinary measures, not standard investigatory practices.”  The guidelines state that a journalist or outlet must be notified unless “such notice would pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation, risk grave harm to national security, or present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm.” In the cases revealed in recent weeks, none of the outlets was informed of the subpoena requests, and two were subject to gag orders. 

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