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May 16, 2017 – The New York Times has published a story with details of a memo written by former FBI Director James Comey documenting a conversation he had with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office in February. The memo was shared with senior FBI officials and close associates of Comey, and read to Times reporters. According to the story, the president told Comey that he should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information.
Reporters Committee Executive Director Bruce Brown made the following statement:
The comments attributed to President Trump cross a dangerous line. But no president gets to jail journalists. Reporters are protected by judges and juries, by a congress that relies on them to stay informed, and by a Justice Department that for decades has honored the role of a free press by spurning prosecutions of journalists for publishing leaks of classified information.
Comments such as these, emerging in the way they did, only remind us that every day public servants are reaching out to reporters to ensure the public is aware of the risks today to rule of law in this country. The president’s remarks should not intimidate the press but inspire it.