Jeff Sessions' Leaks Crackdown Will Target The Free Press
In a press conference on Friday about leaks, Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that in his crackdown on leaks, the Department of Justice would be reviewing its policy for subpoenas of media professionals who publish leaked documents. Sessions had some tough talk for those who have and would consider leaking confidential government information. "I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don't do it," Sessions said.
In addition to announcing the FBI's new counter-intelligence unit investigating leaks, Sessions warned the media that while he respected the rights of the press, the administration's respect is "not unlimited." The attorney general said that the government must "balance the press's role with our security." "This nation must end this culture of leaks," Sessions said.
The administration has been plagued by leaks since President Trump took office. This week alone, the confidential transcripts of a call between Trump and the president of Mexico were leaked to the media and published by The Washington Post. In that private conversation, Trump urged the Mexican president to stop protesting the building of a wall along the Mexican-American border: “If you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that," Trump said, according to the Post.
---> Prepared remarks on leaking from Attorney General Jeff Sessions pic.twitter.com/VhgHkch4mW— Trey Yingst (@TreyYingst) August 4, 2017
The attorney general has been publicly criticized by President Donald Trump for not being touch enough on those who leak private information. Last week, Trump tweeted: "Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!" (Trump has been vocally critical of Sessions on other occasions. The president also tweeted last week: "Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation?")
Sessions has been affected by leaks to media himself. According to a Washington Post article published in July, U.S. spy agencies intercepted Sessions discussing Trump campaign matters with a Russian ambassador, a report that contradicts Sessions' public statements about his relations with Russian officials.
At the Friday press conference, Sessions said that four people have been charged in relations to leaks. The attorney general also noted that the Justice Department has tripled the number of leak probes. "I strongly agree with the president and condemn in the strongest terms the staggering number of leaks undermining the ability of our government to protect this country," Sessions said.