White House Disavows Knowledge of Gag Order on Times Leaders in Leak Inquiry

It isn’t clear how prosecutors made that case, because the existence of the leak investigation and its material — which appeared to focus on James B. Comey Jr., the previous F.B.I. director, and a doc Russian hackers had stolen — was already public information; The Times had reported on it almost a year earlier. On Saturday, Mr. McCraw mentioned The Times would petition the choose to unseal the filings that prosecutors made laying out arguments in assist of the key order.

During the transition to the Biden administration, not less than one official wrote in a memo for the incoming Biden group that the Comey leak investigation that gave rise to the try to seize the reporters’ e-mail data ought to be closed, in accordance with an individual accustomed to the matter.

After Mr. Biden took workplace, the administration positioned performing officers in key positions in the division whereas it waited for the president’s nominees to be confirmed by the Senate. John Carlin, a former Obama-era official, turned the performing deputy legal professional basic, and Monty Wilkinson, a profession official, turned the performing legal professional basic.

Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Carlin had been nonetheless in these roles on March 3, when a profession prosecutor dealing with the matter in the workplace of the United States legal professional for the District of Columbia, Tejpal Chawla, agreed to Google’s demand that somebody at The Times be instructed, in accordance with a contract the 2 firms agreed to when Google took over The Times’s e-mail system.

Mr. Chawla requested the choose to change the Jan. 5 order in order that Mr. McCraw could possibly be instructed concerning the combat, whereas additionally stopping him from telling anybody else. The division finally agreed to additional modifications allowing the corporate’s basic counsel and outdoors legal professionals to be instructed, together with two senior executives: A.G. Sulzberger, the writer, and Meredith Kopit Levien, the chief govt.

But the division insisted that imposing a gag order on them as effectively was justified, so nobody was permitted to inform the general public or anybody in the Times newsroom, together with its govt editor, Dean Baquet. In the meantime, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland took workplace on March 11, however the combat continued on his look ahead to almost three extra months.

The dispute ended on Wednesday, when the division instructed Mr. McCraw that it was asking a choose to quash the order to Google with out having obtained the reporters’ knowledge.

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