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Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr targeted in 2017 CNN calls for ‘immediate meeting’ with Justice Department ‘It’s a big story that just got bigger,’ said Bruce Brown, director Executive Committee of Journalists for Press Freedom. Photograph: J David Ake / AP The Justice Department under the Trump administration secretly obtained telephone and electronic recordings from a CNN reporter who covers the Pentagon, the network reported Thursday. In a May 13 letter, the Justice Department informed CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr that the department had seized two months of telephone and electronic recordings, between June 1 and July 31, 2017. The letter confirmed that the Justice Department had searched for records relating to Starr’s Pentagon extension number, CNN Pentagon booth number, and his home and cell phone number. Officials also obtained records of Starr’s work and personal email addresses. “CNN strongly condemns the covert collection of any aspect of a journalist’s correspondence, which is clearly protected by the First Amendment,” CNN Chairman Jeff Zucker said in a released statement. “We ask for an immediate meeting with the Ministry of Justice for an explanation.” The move highlighted the aggressive tendency of federal investigators under the Trump administration to target journalists involved in leak investigations, in the hope of identifying sources of classified information disclosure. Two weeks ago, The Washington Post revealed that Trump’s Justice Department also obtained call tapes from three Washington Post reporters who worked on a July 2017 article into the FBI’s investigation into the Russia. In 2018, New York Times reporter Ali Watkins, who covered the federal investigation into Assistant James A Wolfe’s leaks, was told by government officials that his emails and phone records were also seized. . In all cases, the content of the phone calls and emails sent was not obtained. “It’s a big story that just got bigger,” Bruce Brown, executive director of the Journalists’ Committee for Press Freedom, said in a statement. “The fact that a reporter from another news organization had communications materials seized by Trump’s Justice Department suggests that the last administration’s efforts to interfere with the relationship between the reporters and the source and news gathering are more radical than originally thought. During Trump’s tenure, the Justice Department notoriously attempted to tackle the alleged leaks. Jeff Sessions, the first attorney general to sit under Trump, announced strong efforts to prosecute government employees who leaked sensitive information to reporters, publicly confirming that the Department of Justice more than tripled the number of investigations into the leaks from the Obama administration. Nearly a dozen leak-related lawsuits have been filed under the Obama administration, more than all previous presidents combined.