Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Wednesday that he could not make a “blanket commitment” to not jailing journalists.
While testifying in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked Sessions if he could state that he would not place “reporters in jail for doing their jobs.” Sessions offered the following reply:
“Well, I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect. But I will say this, we have not taken any aggressive action against the media at this point. But we have matters that involve the most serious national security issues that put our country at risk, and we will utilize the authorities that we have legally and constitutionally if we have to.”
Sessions statements come after a number of events which seem to indicate that the current administration has little concern for transparency or an open media.
In August, the Justice Department announced that it would crackdown on government leakers and make prosecuting them a priority, with Sessions saying “We respect the important role the press plays and we’ll give them respect, but it’s not unlimited.”
And just last week, President Trump indicated that network broadcast licenses should be challenged, after a story on NBC News made him angry.
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
Sessions also previously stated that his office would be reviewing and possibly reevaluating its policies on press subpoenas, citing national security as his reason.
“They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press’ role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in the intelligence community, the Armed Forces and all law-abiding Americans.”
In recent months, members of the media and media watchdog groups have become more alarmed over Trump’s rhetoric, and what it could mean for journalists over the next three years.