Jeff Sessions Wants to Stop Leaks by Targeting Journalists

The attorney general announced his plans to limit leaks from the Trump administration.

Andrew Harnik/AP

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At a press conference Friday morning, Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlined the Trump administration’s plans to crackdown on leaks—including possible legal action targeting journalists. Sessions claimed that the administration has seen as many leaks of classified information in the last six months as there were in the previous three years combined and described leakers as rogue criminals “sell[ing] out the country.” In response to the leaks, he suggested the department will move to expand the use media subpoenas.

“I’ve listened to our career investigators, FBI agents…and our 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.” 

Sessions also said that the government aims to triple the number of leak investigations. “The FBI has increased resources devoted to leak cases and created a new counterintelligence unit to manage these cases,” he said. Additionally, Sessions has directed the national security division of the Department of Justice and U.S. attorneys to prioritize leak investigations. 

Dan Coates, the Director of National Intelligence, joined Sessions at the press conference, saying that his office is reviewing the procedure used to issue security clearances before closing with an ominous threat for any government employee who leaks information to the press. “We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and you will not be happy with the result,” he said.

Coates and Sessions left without taking any questions. As they left the podium, one reporter asked, “Do you plan to prosecute journalists?”

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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