The White House claims to have had no idea that the Department of Justice seized the Associated Press’ phone records in what the news organisation’s top executives called a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
“Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the AP,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters in New York Monday night.
“We are not involved in decisions made in connection with criminal investigations, as those matters are handled independently by the Justice Department. Any questions about an ongoing criminal investigation should be directed to the Department of Justice.”
Carney’s comments came just hours after the AP broke the news that the DOJ had seized two months of phone records from its reporters and editors in April and May of 2012. According to the AP, the DOJ has refused to say why it is investigating the news organisation, but the news company believes that it has to do with a May 7 story about a foiled terrorist plot in Yemen.
The DOJ move breaks all kinds of protocol for how the agency deals with media organisations, so it’s not surprising that the White House would want to pass the ordeal off to the Attorney General.
But if the administration’s response to other recent scandals — i.e. Benghazi, the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups — is any indication, we still have a lot more to learn about the DOJ/AP story.
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