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One Thing to Thank Obama For – Laying the Groundwork for Trump Crackdown on Leakers

President Obama’s Department of Justice drew the blueprint that the Trump administration can use to hunt down leakers.

President Trump’s attorney general, former Senator Jeff Sessions, said Friday that the Department of Justice will review subpoena policies regarding media outlets, but the basis for the possible policy change came from the Obama administration.

According to a New York Times piece, media advocates are worried about the precedent that the Obama administration set:

When Mr. Obama was elected in 2008, press freedom groups had high expectations for the former constitutional law professor, particularly after the press had suffered through eight years of bitter confrontation with the Bush administration. But today, many of those same groups say Mr. Obama’s record of going after both journalists and their sources has set a dangerous precedent that Mr. Trump can easily exploit. “Obama has laid all the groundwork Trump needs for an unprecedented crackdown on the press,” said Trevor Timm, executive director of the nonprofit Freedom of the Press Foundation.

Dana Priest, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The Washington Post, added: “Obama’s attorney general repeatedly allowed the F.B.I. to use intrusive measures against reporters more often than any time in recent memory. The moral obstacles have been cleared for Trump’s attorney general to go even further, to forget that it’s a free press that has distinguished us from other countries, and to try to silence dissent by silencing an institution whose job is to give voice to dissent.”

Leaks have crippled the Trump White House since its inception in January. As a result, the president and his attorney general have redoubled their efforts to hunt down those inside the information providing confidential information to the press.

Sessions left open the possibility that law enforcement could subpoena journalists to acquire information their sources inside the administration. Doing so would revive the Obama-era policy that leakers are not to be tolerated and that law enforcement can extract information on leakers from journalists.