Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to pursue and prosecute anyone who leaks sensitive government information, and consider subpoenaing members of the media who publish those leaks, in a briefing at the Justice Department Friday morning.
The briefing about ongoing ongoing leak investigations Friday came a day after the Washington Post first published leaked leaked transcripts of President Trump’s January phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Sessions condemned those leaks as dangerous to national security, and noted the number of unauthorized leaks has “exploded” under the Trump administration. Mr. Trump in recent days has called Sessions “very weak” on prosecuting leakers, in Twitter tirades.
“We are taking a stand. This culture of leaking must stop,” Sessions said in the briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
The Justice Department has more than tripled the number of active leak investigations compared to the number pending at the end of the Obama administration and the National Security Agency and U.S. Attorneys Offices have been directed to prioritize cases involving unauthorized disclosures, Sessions said.
“We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice,” Sessions said. “We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer.”
But leakers aren’t the only ones who will come in the crosshairs of the federal government. Sessions also said the Justice Department is reviewing its policy related to subpoenaing the media when leaks are published. Members of the media, “cannot place lives at risk with impunity,” Sessions said. The Trump administration — which regularly— has already suggested stepping up legal recourse against the media for publishing “fake” or leaked news.
“I have listened to career investigators and prosecutors about how to most successfully investigate and prosecute these matters,” Sessions said. “At their suggestion, one of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas. We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance their role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, the armed forces, and all law abiding…