The Justice Department is considering making changes to its policies on subpoenaing news organizations as part of its crackdown on government leaks, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday.
At a news conference, Sessions said the Justice Department is cracking down on leaks coming out of the government. The department "has more than tripled the number of active leak investigations" since the end of the Obama administration in January, he said.
Much of the effort involves investigating and prosecuting leak suspects, he said, but another aspect is “reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas.” That review, he said, came at the suggestion of FBI agents, career investigators and prosecutors who have weighed in on the leak problem.
“We respect the important role that the press plays, and we’ll give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” Sessions said. “They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance the press’s role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in the intelligence community, the armed forces and all law-abiding Americans.”
Sessions did not offer more details on what kinds of changes the department is considering.
At the news conference, Sessions described the nation as having a problematic “culture of leaks” that must be stamped out. And he issued a blunt warning to “would-be leakers” of classified information: “Don’t do it,” or risk prosecution.
“It’s vital for the intelligence community to know that the Department of Justice is committed to investigating and prosecuting these referrals,” Sessions said. “When few investigations take place, criminal leaks may occur more often and a culture of leaking can take hold.”
“So today, I have this message for our friends in the intelligence community,” he continued. “The Department of Justice is open for business, and I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don’t do it.”
Trump has railed against the stream of leaks coming out of his administration, both stories including unclassified details about the day-to-day working of his White House and bigger stories about intelligence agencies and the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s relationship with Russia.