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AG Nominee Can Imagine Jailing Reporters 'Who Hurt The Country'

William Barr told Senator Amy Klobuchar he believes the Trump administration has the right to jail reporters "who hurt the country." He did not explain what actions reporters might do to earn that distinction.

William Barr, President Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, on Tuesday suggested that journalists could be put in jail if they “hurt the country” with their reporting.

At a Senate confirmation hearing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked for the nominee’s view on protections for a free press.

“I want to ask you something that I asked Attorney General [Jeff Sessions],” Klobuchar said. “If you’re confirmed, will the Justice Department jail reporters for doing their jobs?”

“I can conceive of situations where as a last resort and a news organization has run through a red flag or something like that, knows that they’re putting out stuff that will hurt the country,” Barr said, “there might be a situation where someone would be held in contempt.”

Spencer Ackerman, a national security reporter for The Daily Beast, called Barr’s answer “disturbing.”

Disturbing answer by Barr on jailing reporters. Says he can conceive of circumstances where "as a last resort" & where a news organization "knows they are putting stuff out where they’re hurting the country," which puts the legal onus on publishers.

— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) January 15, 2019

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