The letter this week disclosing the seizure of cellphone information involving the Times reporters — Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eric Lichtblau and Michael S. Schmidt — had hinted on the existence of the separate combat over information that might present whom that they had been in touch with over e mail.
The letters stated the federal government had additionally acquired a court docket order to grab logs of their emails, however “no records were obtained,” offering no additional particulars. But with the lifting of the gag order, Mr. McCraw stated he had been freed to clarify what had occurred.
Prosecutors within the workplace of the United States lawyer in Washington had obtained a sealed court docket order from a Justice of the Peace decide on Jan. 5 requiring Google to secretly flip over the knowledge. But Google resisted, apparently demanding that The Times be informed, as its contract with the corporate requires.
The Justice Department continued to press the request after the Biden administration took over, however in early March prosecutors relented and requested a decide to allow telling Mr. McCraw. But the disclosure to him got here with a nondisclosure order stopping him from speaking about it to different folks.
Mr. McCraw stated it was “stunning” to obtain an e mail from Google telling him what was going on. At first, he stated, he didn’t know who the prosecutor was, and since the matter was sealed, there have been no court docket paperwork he may entry about it.
The subsequent day, Mr. McCraw stated, he was informed the identify of the prosecutor — a profession assistant United States lawyer in Washington, Tejpal Chawla — and opened negotiations with him. Eventually, Mr. Chawla agreed to ask the decide to switch the gag order so Mr. McCraw may focus on the matter with The Times’s basic counsel and the corporate’s outdoors attorneys, after which with two senior Times executives: A.G. Sulzberger, the writer, and Meredith Kopit Levien, the chief govt.
“We made clear that we intended to go to court to challenge the order if it was not withdrawn,” Mr. McCraw stated. Then, on June 2, he stated, the Justice Department informed him it will ask the court docket to quash the order to Google on the similar time that it disclosed the sooner cellphone information seizure, which he had not identified about.