Trump's DHS tried to secretly subpoena BuzzFeed to reveal sources -- but the publication exposed the scheme: report
Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf (DHS photo via Twitter)
December 04, 2020
President Donald Trump took an oath to defend Americans' First Amendment right to a free press, but his efforts to the contrary continue to escalate during the final two months of his administration.
"Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators issued a subpoena this week demanding BuzzFeed News identify its sources — an extraordinary attempt by the government to interfere with a news outlet acting under the protections of the First Amendment, and a move that the agency’s former chief lambasted as 'embarrassing.' The effort to pressure BuzzFeed News into revealing sources comes after relentless efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to undermine the free press. The outgoing president has for years lied about news outlets that publish true but critical stories about him and his administration, calling them “fake news,” which has opened reporters up to threats and violence," BuzzFeed News correspondent Hamed Aleaziz reported Friday evening.
"The administration has also targeted journalist sources. Specifically in the Department of Homeland Security, officials have warned employees not to discuss internal policies or documents with the media. They have also told employees to report colleagues they suspected of sharing sensitive internal information, along with those who requested information that fell out of their day-to-day duties," BuzzFeed reported. "The subpoena appears to be an escalation of the Trump administration’s efforts to track down the identities of people who provide information to news outlets."
BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Mark Schoofs said the publication "rejects" the subpoena.
"BuzzFeed News emphatically rejects any requests for information about possible sources and methods of our reporting,” said Schoofs. “We do not confirm or discuss confidential sources, and this subpoena is an outrageous overreach by the federal government. It's fundamentally at odds with the US Constitution and will not have any impact on our journalism."
John Sandweg, former ICE acting director, blasted the Trump administration move.
“This is embarrassing for ICE. I think it is a weak effort to intimidate the press,” said Sandweg. “When you’re trying to intimidate the press, you cross a line. It is something that the agency should never do.”
ICE requested that BuzzFeed not disclose the existence of the subpoena.