Chelsea Clinton Made An ACLU Donation The Minute Jeff Sessions Vowed To Go After The Press

by Chris Tognotti
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

On Friday, a statement in a press conference by Attorney General Jeff Sessions stirred up a lot of concern among Democrats, progressives, and advocates for the free press. Namely, his acknowledgment that, amid an ongoing attempt to discover and thwart leakers in the Trump administration, he's currently assessing the Department of Justice's policies for issuing subpoenas to journalists. The news seemingly led former first daughter Chelsea Clinton to place a donation to the ACLU, throwing a little money in the direction of one of America's most prominent civil liberties advocacy groups.

Founded in 1920, the American Civil Liberties Union has seen its donations surge in the early months of the Trump presidency, amid widespread concern on the part of progressives and pro-journalism advocates that the administration would look to crack down on press freedom. In fact, the weekend after Donald Trump's sparsely-attended inauguration (in relative terms, at least), the organization reportedly hauled in a staggering $24 million in online donations, more than six times the amount of online donations it typically gets in a full year.

Trump, for his part, has fueled this anti-press perception himself with his constant claims of "fake news," and by calling for a re-writing of libel laws during the 2016 presidential campaign. Apparently disturbed by the revelation that the Justice Department is more actively considering legal action against journalists ― in the context of a hunt for leakers, likely to try compel them to release their sources ― Clinton tweeted out that she'd made a donation to the ACLU.

Clinton, 37, grew up in the White House during her father's presidential administration from 1993 to 2001 and later acted as a high-profile surrogate for her mother's losing presidential bid in 2016. Since then, she's kept a pretty visible public profile, including scoring a Variety cover. The exposure has lead some media observers to speculate, despite her repeated statements to the contrary, that she might be mulling a run for political office.

The speculation, which included several journalists tweeted at and about Clinton and the precise wording of her denials, also caused a backlash among some of her family's supporters, who viewed the scrutiny as unfair and obsessive.

This is not the first time Clinton's voiced public support for the ACLU. She also tweeted back in February about its efforts to provide immigrants facing deportation access to attorneys to help them defend themselves, when the organization was drawing some highly-visible support at the Grammy's music awards show.