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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

A pro-Trump network of conservative operatives has been compiling dossiers of potentially damaging public comments and social media posts by journalists who have produced unfavorable coverage of the administration, the New York Times' Ken Vogel and Jeremy Peters report.

The big picture: The group has already released information on journalists at CNN, the Times and the Washington Post, but sources say the operation has only disclosed a fraction of its dirt. More is set to be disseminated as the 2020 election campaign ramps up, including potentially "fireable" information on "several hundred" journalists, according to one source. The research is also said to include information on journalists' families and any "toxic" political affiliations.

What they're saying: The White House press office said no one in the White House, including the president, was aware of or involved in the scheme and that no funding for the operation has been provided by the administration or the Republican National Committee.

  • But, but, but: According to the Times, "The Trump campaign said it was unaware of, and not involved in, the effort, but suggested that it served a worthy purpose. 'We know nothing about this, but it’s clear that the media has a lot of work to do to clean up its own house,' said Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s communications director."
  • Sam Nunberg, who worked on the 2016 Trump campaign, told the Times: "Two can play at this game. The media has long targeted Republicans with deep dives into their social media, looking to caricature all conservatives and Trump voters as racists."

The bottom line: Trump has long been at war with the press, consistently deeming factual reporting "fake news" and attacking journalists as the "enemy of the people." The effort to delegitimize reporters on a personal level, even if not led by Trump himself, appears to be an unprecedented step.

Go deeper

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Kaine, Collins pitch Senate colleagues on censuring Trump

Sen. Tim Kaine speaks with Sen. Susan Collins. Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine and Susan Collins are privately pitching their colleagues on a bipartisan resolution censuring former President Trump, three sources familiar with the discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction in his second impeachment.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Anthony Coley to lead Justice Department public affairs

Photo: Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images

Judge Merrick Garland, President Biden’s nominee for attorney general, has tapped Anthony Coley, an Obama-era Treasury Department official, to serve as a senior adviser and to lead public affairs at the Department of Justice, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: As the public face of the DOJ, Coley will help explain — and defend — the department's actions, from sensitive cases to prosecutorial decisions, including the investigation into Hunter Biden.

AP: Justice Dept. rescinds "zero tolerance" policy

A young girl waves to onlookers through the fence at the U.S.-Mexico border wall in San Ysidro, California, in Nov. 2018. Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden's acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson issued a memo on Tuesday to revoke the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, which separated thousands of migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, AP first reported.

Driving the news: A recent report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz emphasized the internal chaos at the agency over the implementation of the policy, which resulted in 545 parents separated from their children as of October 2020.

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