Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Tuesday said there are multiple investigations into government leaks that he said have been “extraordinarily damaging” to national security.
When asked by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) during an intelligence committee hearing if the Justice Department is going to prosecute leaks to the fullest extent of the law, Sessions confirmed that there are active investigations underway.
The attorney general said leaks are “already resulting in investigations, and I’m — I fear that some people may find that they wish they hadn’t leaked.”
“Some of these leaks, as you well know, are extraordinarily damaging to the United States security, and we have got to restore a regular order principle,” Sessions said. “We cannot have persons in our intelligence agencies … or in Congress leak sensitive matters.”
Sessions also noted the arrest earlier this month of a government contractor in Georgia on a charge of leaking a classified report that apparently originated with the National Security Agency. The attorney general highlighted the fact that Reality Winner, 25, is being held without bail. She’s accused of violating the Espionage Act by mailing to the online news outlet the Intercept a copy of the NSA report on Russian election-related hacking efforts.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly railed against a flood of leaks that have damaged his White House, including a report that he allegedly revealed highly classified information to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister during an Oval Office meeting. During the same conversation, Trump allegedly told the Russian leaders that firing former FBI director James Comey had relieved the pressure of the Russia investigation.
Trump has recently branded Comey a leaker after the ex-FBI chief said he shared the content of conversations he had with Trump to an associate in the hopes that it might result in the appointment of a special counsel. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller was named to such a position shortly after the associate shared the information with the media.