The Trump administration’s Department of Justice covertly obtained phone and email records from CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr, in a manner reminiscent of the one multiple current and former Washington Post reporters faced.
CNN reported on Thursday that the Justice Department informed Starr on May 13 that prosecutors had gained access to phone and email records between June 1, 2017, to July 31, 2017. Starr had reported on US military options presented to Trump in 2017, but the DOJ letter did not state a reason that Starr’s records were seized.
According to the letter, all of Starr’s personal and work email and phone records were obtained for that timeframe. The records were sought through the courts, but Starr nor CNN were not notified in the process, and it is unclear whether the seizure was approved under Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Attorney General William Barr.
The longstanding and controversial practice of federal investigators secretly seizing records from journalists, under the scope of leak investigations, was widely used by the Obama administration and favored by the Trump administration as well.
In 2013, Obama’s DOJ made a series of reforms requiring advance notice to journalists roped into these types of investigations, with exemptions related to national security.
“CNN strongly condemns the secret collection of any aspect of a journalist’s correspondence, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” said CNN President Jeff Zucker. “We are asking for an immediate meeting with the Justice Department for an explanation.”
In the early days of the Trump administration, the Justice Department covertly pulled phone records from several current and now former Washington Post journalists and also tried to source their email records, according to government letters sent to the reporters and reviewed by The Post. The reporters were looking into Russia’s influence in the 2016 elections.
Biden said he has spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu six times in the last 11 days, and he added that he spoke to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Thursday as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Biden called for “full cooperation,” with Palestinians and Israelis, and added that his administration would coordinate with the Palestinian Authority to send aid to the Gaza Strip for its reconstruction following Israeli airstrikes.
“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis, equally deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy,” Biden said.
Israel and the militant group Hamas agreed to a ceasefire on Thursday after Israel’s security cabinet voted to approve the truce, and Hamas officials told Reuters the ceasefire would be “mutual and simultaneous.” The ceasefire is scheduled to take effect at 2 a.m. local time on Friday.
But on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was no timeframe for a cease-fire, telling reporters: “We’re not standing with a stopwatch. We are taking care of the operation’s objectives,” according to The Times of Israel.
President Joe Biden and US officials have been privately urging Israel to wind down its operations, the Associated Press and Politico reported.
The US State Department will now recognize the citizenship of babies born through in vitro fertilization or surrogacy, a win for same-sex couples.
The State Department on Tuesday announced that babies born abroad to married couples where one parent is a US citizen will automatically be granted citizenship in the US.
Existing law required babies born abroad needed to have a blood relationship with the parent who was a US citizen. The new policy announced Tuesday requires the baby to be genetically related to one of the married parents.
The move is a victory for gay couples and married couples who have children through in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, or other assisted reproductive technology.
“This updated interpretation and application of the INA takes into account the realities of modern families and advances in ART from when the Act was enacted in 1952,” the state department said in a press release announcing the policy change.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will net $5.12 million for his recent book about his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to tax documents released by his office on Monday.
Cuomo’s office said that Governor will make $2 million of income from the book – “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” – over the next two years, and that he made a total of $3.12 million from the book this year.
According to the tax returns, Cuomo’s net income from the book was $1.54 million in 2020. Cuomo’s office said the Governor contributed $500,000 to the United Way and $1 million into a trust for his daughters.
Cuomo’s book was released in October 2020, while the state continued to grapple with the pandemic and as Cuomo faced allegations of covering up COVID-19 deaths in the state’s nursing homes at the height of the crisis.
Among investigations into sexual assault allegations and into the nursing home deaths, Cuomo is also facing an investigation into whether he used state resources to produce the book. Cuomo’s team has denied allegations that state staff were used to work on the book.
The Supreme Court is declining to hear a case that would have let the justices decide whether a single use of the N-word in the workplace can create a hostile work environment.
The high court said Monday it would not take the case of a former Texas hospital employee who said he was subjected to a hostile work environment, including graffiti in one elevator that used the N-word. As is typical, the court did not comment in turning away the case. It was one of many the court rejected Monday.
Robert Collier said that during the seven years he worked as an operating room aide at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, white nurses called him and other Black employees “boy.” He also said management ignored two large swastikas painted on a storage room wall. He sued the hospital after he was fired in 2016.
The hospital’s lawyers had urged the court not to take Collier’s case. In a statement to The Associated Press, hospital spokesman Michael Malaise noted that there is no evidence “that any Parkland employee was responsible for the alleged graffiti or that it was directed specifically at Mr. Collier.”
Parkland is the hospital where President John F. Kennedy was taken in 1963 after he was fatally shot.
The US Supreme Court on Monday announced it planned to take up a major abortion case that could allow it to severely limit or overturn landmark court rulings on abortion, including Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, concerns a law in Mississippi that bans most abortions after 15 weeks, SCOTUSblog first noted.
The Supreme Court will consider “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” according to the court’s announcement.
In January, the Supreme Court voted to ban the abortion pill from mail delivery, making it the only prescription medication to have such restrictions, until the Biden Administration reversed the ruling on April 13.
In July 2020, for the first time, the FDA allowed mail order of the abortion pill on a federal level. The goal was to ensure safe abortion care during the pandemic, when Americans were being urged not to travel and to avoid in-person treatments where possible.
Kate Kelly, a human rights lawyer and co-host of abortion rights podcast Ordinary Equality, previously told Insider the SCOTUS ruling doesn’t just heighten COVID-19 risk for people seeking abortions. She believes it’s also a bad omen for the future of Roe v. Wade, a 1973 ruling which says pregnant women have the right to abortions without excessive government intervention.
“They intervened in something that would have naturally expired, because it was an order for during the pandemic,” Kelly said.
“This is another reason why it’s like, ‘Oh, why did [SCOTUS] jump into something that would have ostensibly expired anyway, to like cut it off?’ That’s scary,” Kelly said.
What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned
If SCOTUS were to rule in favor of abortion restriction in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, it would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade.
Joffe expects that would change: she believes prison time post-Roe would be more common.
“Prosecution before Roe was very idiosyncratic, dependent on local factors. But if Roe falls, criminal justice officials, from the virulently anti-choice Attorney General Jeff Sessions on down to local police and district attorneys in many jurisdictions, can be expected to avidly pursue those who break the law,” Joffe wrote in a 2017 article for Rewire News Group.
In 2016, The Self-induced Abortion Legal Team, a group of lawyers advocating for reproductive justice, reported that at least 17 people who sought self-medicated abortions since 2005 have faced arrests or jail time.
There are still many unknowns about cost and access if Roe v. Wade is overturned, Joffe said, since different states can make their own laws about the procedure. One thing is certain: abortions will continue, no matter Roe v. Wade’s future.