Leak investigations triples under Trump; administration reviewing media policies
The Trump administration promised Friday to ramp up prosecutions of unauthorized disclosures of classified information, calling them a threat to national security.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said the Justice Department has more than tripled the number of leak investigations amid a "staggering" increase.
"I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don't do it,” Sessions said at the Justice Department alongside Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
"Criminals who would illegally use their access to our most sensitive information to endanger our national security are in fact being investigated and will be prosecuted," Sessions added.
So far, four people have been charged for leaking information or related actions, he said.
The announcement comes one week after President Donald Trump called his top lawyer "VERY weak" on prosecuting leaks.
The administration has been rocked by a series of unauthorized disclosures to the media since he took office in January. At least one such instance resulted in the ouster of Trump's first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
On Thursday, the Trump White House was rocked by the disclosures of the president's discussions with the leaders of Mexico and Australia, during which Trump allegedly made disparaging comments about a U.S. state and asked Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto not to discuss publicly a controversial wall Trump promised to build on America's southern border with Mexico.
Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway, speaking to Fox News, called the leaks "nothing short of a national disgrace" and said it is "easier" to find the leakers than some might think because the West Wing is a "small place".
Sessions warned that his Justice Department is "reviewing policies" for subpoenaing journalists.
As he left the news conference, a journalist shouted a question asking if Sessions plans to prosecute journalists. He did not reply.