Could journalists be jailed for their reporting in the United States? Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he can’t rule it out “if we have to.”
The surprising remark came during a five-hour hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
“Will you commit to not putting reporters in jail for doing their jobs?” asked Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota).
“Well, I don’t know that I can make a blanket commitment to that effect,” said Sessions. “But I would 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 tried to hedge a bit — but the core of his answer remained the same.
“We always try to find an alternative way, as you probably know, Senator Klobuchar, to directly confronting a media person. But that’s not a total, blanket protection,” he said.
Klobuchar said her question was in response to Trump’s aggressive anti-media posturing and his recent threats to challenge the FCC licenses of broadcaster who displease him.
Two former FCC officials blasted Trump to the TheWrap earlier this month and said the president’s saber-rattling at the independent body were inappropriate.
After a long period of silence, Republican FCC chief Ajit Pai was ultimately reaffirmed his commitment to uphold the Constitution.
“I believe in the First Amendment,” he said Tuesday at George Mason University, the Washington Post reported.