Shortly after the Justice Department released its statement, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement that "given the independence of the Justice Department in specific criminal cases, no one at the White House was aware of the gag order until Friday night".
The records, which were from a four-month period in 2017, were seized in 2020 during an investigation into a leak, The Times reported.
The White House on Saturday announced that the United States Department of Justice would no longer secretly work to obtain the records of journalists involved as part of investigations into leaks.
The decision would mark a break from Democratic and Republican predecessors alike, whose administrations have seized reporter call logs in an effort to identify sources of classified information.More news: 'I was right about Wuhan lab': Trump demands China pay $10 trillion
The battle was over an effort by the Justice Department to seize email logs from Google, which operates the Times's email system and had resisted the effort to obtain the information, the report said.
The disclosure is just the latest from the Biden administration, which revealed in early May that the Trump administration's Justice Department quietly accessed the 2017 phone records of three reporters from The Washington Post, and also tried to get their email records.
President Joe Biden has said he would not allow the Justice Department to continue the practice of obtaining reporters" records, calling it "simply, simply wrong'.
"DOJ has now completed a review to determine all instances in which the Department had pending compulsory requests from reporters in leak investigations".
The Times was not informed of the attempt by the Trump administration, according to the report.More news: B.C. reports fewer than 200 new COVID-19 cases, no deaths
"This is a welcome step to protecting the ability of the press to provide the public with essential information about what their government is doing", New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger said in a statement. It also did not define who exactly would be counted as a member of the media for the purposes of the policy and how broadly the protection would apply.
The order prevented executives from disclosing the government's efforts even to the executive editor, Dean Baquet, and other newsroom leaders, it said.
After blowback, Holder announced a revised set of guidelines for leak investigations, including requiring the authorization of the highest levels of the department before subpoenas for news media records could be issued.
The journalists are neither the subjects nor the targets of the investigation, Coley said.More news: Belarus: Foreign Secretary welcomes ICAO fact-finding mission into diverted flight