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It is not clear how the prosecutors brought this case, given the existence of the leak investigation and its subject matter – which apparently related to James B. Comey Jr., the former FBI director, and a document that Russian hackers had stolen – seemed to concentrate, knowledge was already public; The Times had reported on it almost a year earlier. On Saturday, McCraw said the Times would ask the judge to unseal the records prosecutors argued in support of the classified order.
During the transition to the Biden administration, at least one official wrote in a memo for the new Biden team that the Comey leak investigation that led to the attempt to confiscate reporters’ email records, according to one with the Matter.
After Mr. Biden took office, the government placed acting officials in key positions in the department while awaiting the Senate’s approval of the presidential candidates. John Carlin, a former Obama-era official, became assistant attorney general and Monty Wilkinson, a career civil servant, became assistant attorney general.
Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Carlin were still in those roles on March 3, when a district attorney working at the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, Tejpal Chawla, agreed to Google’s request that someone from the Times Time announced, in accordance with a contract the two companies signed, when Google took over the Times’ email system.
Mr. Chawla asked the judge to amend the January 5th order so that Mr. McCraw could be notified of the fight while preventing him from telling others. The department eventually approved additional changes that allowed the company’s general counsel and outside attorneys, as well as two senior executives: AG Sulzberger, the editor, and Meredith Kopit Levien, the executive board.
But the department insisted it was justified to give them a gag order so that no one could tell the public or anyone in the Times newsroom, including its editor-in-chief Dean Baquet, about it. Meanwhile, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland took office on March 11, but the fight continued under his watch for nearly three months.
The dispute ended on Wednesday when the department announced to Mr McCraw that it had ordered a judge to overturn the order submitted to Google without having received the reporter’s data.