CNN disclosed on Wednesday that the Justice Department had fought a secret legal battle to obtain the email logs of one of its reporters — and that as part of the fight the government imposed a gag order on the network’s lawyers and its president, Jeff Zucker.
The news network’s disclosure came less than a week after a lawyer for The New York Times revealed that he and a handful of lawyers and executives for the newspaper had been gagged as part of a similar fight stemming from a leak investigation.
The fight for the CNN reporter’s email data began in July 2020 under the Trump administration and was resolved on Jan. 26, just after the Biden administration took office, in a deal with prosecutors under which the network turned over “a limited set of email logs,” it said. A judge recently lifted the gag order over the matter.
The disclosure was the latest involving aggressive steps the Justice Department took in leak inquiries late in the Trump administration, and the second inquiry now known to have spilled over into the early Biden administration.
The Justice Department had revealed in recent weeks that it had, during the Trump administration, successfully seized phone records for the four Times reporters, the CNN reporter and several reporters at The Washington Post as part of leak investigations. Each involved records from 2017.
In the fallout from the revelations, President Biden has directed the department to cease the practice of seizing reporters’ communications records in an attempt to identify their sources. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has scheduled a meeting with leaders of the three news organizations for Monday.
President Biden on Wednesday revoked a Trump-era executive order that sought to ban the popular apps TikTok and WeChat and replaced it with one that calls for a broader review of a number of foreign-controlled applications that could pose a security risk to Americans and their data.
The Trump order had not been carried out “in the soundest fashion,” Biden administration officials said in a call with reporters, adding that the new directive would establish “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate national security risks posed by software applications connected to foreign governments, particularly China.
Mr. Biden’s order reflects a growing urgency among American officials, both Republican and Democrat, to aggressively counter what they see as a growing threat posed by China’s military and technology sectors. In a rare show of bipartisanship, U.S. lawmakers have also sought to reduce America’s dependence on China for supply chain technology like semiconductors, rare minerals and other equipment. On Tuesday, the Senate approved a $250 billion spending package to bolster American technology research and development.