During a private meeting in February with the former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, President Trump floated a proposal that, even by the standards of a leader who routinely advertises his disdain for the news media, brought editors and reporters up short.
You should consider, Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, jailing journalists who publish classified information.
Presidents are rarely afraid to wrangle and bully reporters, and Mr. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, was pilloried by news organizations for aggressively prosecuting leakers. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion, first reported by The New York Times, breached new territory for political reporters who already consider their profession under siege.
“Suggesting that the government should prosecute journalists for the publication of classified information is very menacing, and I think that’s exactly what they intend,” said Martin Baron, the Washington Post’s executive editor. “It’s an act of intimidation"...
Lawyers and journalism specialists have generally argued that the Espionage Act applies to leakers, not to publishers or journalists. In theory, though, the act is written broadly enough that it could conceivably be applied to the news media.
The American government has never charged a reporter under the act. But previous administrations have flirted with the idea.
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