Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday announced that the Justice Department, FBI and government intelligence agencies will direct more resources into the investigations of government leaks and would consider subpoenaing members of the media who publish those leaks.
The Friday press conference came a day after the Washington Post first published leaked transcripts of President Trump’s January phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Sessions denounced the leaked transcripts as dangerous to national security, and noted the number of unauthorized leaks has “exploded” under the Trump administration.
“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.
“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.”
Sessions also said the Justice Department is reviewing its policy related to subpoenaing journalists when leaks are published.
Members of the media, “cannot place lives at risk with impunity,” Sessions said.
“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 Americans.”
After suggesting the Justice Department may pursue media outlets with legal action, Sessions took no questions from the press after he had concluded his remarks.
“For those out there who may be listening or watching these announcements … if you improperly disclose classified information, we will find you,” Coats said. “We will investigate you. We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law, and you will not be happy with the result.”