- The Washington Times - Monday, April 30, 2018

The Department of Justice has revised its U.S. attorneys’ manual by removing language about press freedom and racial gerrymandering, according to a media report.

A section titled the “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was removed from the newest edition of manual. Instead, it now instructs prosecutors not to share classified information with journalists and orders them to report any contact with members of the press, BuzzFeed reported.

The move is likely a response to the Trump administration’s efforts to crackdown on illegal leaks to the media.

The new version of the manual also no longer specifically mentions racial gerrymandering among the federal law violations that can be prosecuted, BuzzFeed said. Although, the text does refer to protections under the Voting Rights Act.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is said to have ordered the updated manual, according to BuzzFeed. It was last revised in 1997.

Ian Prior, a Justice Department spokesman, told BuzzFeed that the guidance provided in the manual is not supposed to be “an exhaustive list of constitutional rights, statutory law, regulatory law or generalized principles of our legal system.”

The purpose of the changes, according to Mr. Prior, is to identify sections and language that “required greater clarity” and add any content to “help Department attorneys perform core prosecutorial functions,” BuzzFeed said.

Not all of the changes were substantial, however. Long paragraphs have been split up, and outdated contact lists have been updated, according to the report.

Other revisions had been previously announced to the public. In January, the Justice Department announced it would add a section called “Respect for Religious Liberty” ordering prosecutors to alert senior officials about any lawsuits against the U.S. government that raise questions concerning religious liberty.

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