U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

AJC subpoenaed as part of criminal investigation into 2020 presidential election

Incident Details

Date of Incident
July 2022
Atlanta, Georgia

Subpoena/Legal Order

Legal Orders
Legal Order Target
Legal Order Venue

The Fulton County Elections and Administrative Divisions Office in Atlanta in 2021. County prosecutors investigating the 2020 presidential election subpoenaed the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

July 14, 2022 - Update

AJC publishes, then provides copy of leaked recording to prosecutors in response to subpoena

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said on July 14, 2022, it would comply with a subpoena by providing a copy of a previously published conference call recording involving former-acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

A grand jury issued the subpoena as part of the Fulton County prosecutors’ investigation into former President Donald Trump’s possible interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results.

“The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and most major news organizations object to subpoenas seeking testimony or unpublished newsroom records,” AJC Editor-in-Chief Kevin Riley said in a statement provided to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker. “The law in Georgia and most states recognizes a ‘reporter’s privilege’ to keep news gathering material confidential.”

Riley said that after reviewing the recording, the outlet decided to publish the full contents on its website and provide a copy to prosecutors.

“We are cautious in our approach to subpoenas related to our news gathering, because of the need to remain independent in any legal proceeding,” said Riley. “A careful review found there was nothing on the recording that would reveal a confidential source or private information.”

July 5, 2022

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was subpoenaed in July 2022 by a Fulton County special grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s possible interference in Georgia’s 2020 presidential election results.

The grand jury conducting the criminal investigation into Trump’s potential involvement is seeking audio recordings of a Jan. 11, 2021, phone call involving the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Bobby Christine.

According to the AJC, Christine was appointed to the role by Trump on Jan. 4, after his predecessor could not find legitimate claims of election fraud. On Jan. 12, 2021, AJC reported on the leaked conference call between Christine and staffers. During the call, Christine said he had dismissed two election fraud cases filed by Trump’s supporters on his first day as a U.S. Attorney.

Prosecutors also issued subpoenas to Trump associates including U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

When reached for comment, an AJC editor said the outlet would be publishing a statement on the subpoena. Fulton County District Attorney’s Office did not respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].