Attorney General Jeff Sessions Friday detailed his plans to combat leaks of classified information, which have sparked the anger of President Donald Trump.
Sessions, in a brief speech at the Justice Department, said that he spoke to career employees and, “at their suggestion, one of the things we are doing is reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas.”
He did not specify what that means in terms of prosecutions or actions against journalists.
“We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited,” Sessions said in prepared remarks. “They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance their role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, the armed forces, and all law-abiding Americans.”
Sessions’ announcement comes after a tense two weeks between the President and one of his earliest supporters. Trump openly blamed Sessions for his woes stemming from the Russia investigations, saying Sessions never should have recused himself from the federal probe.
The President has repeatedly called on increased prosecution of “leaks.” Last Thursday, he called on Sessions to crack down.
“I want the attorney general to be much tougher on the leaks from intelligence agencies,” Trump said last week. “These are intelligence agencies. We cannot have that happen.”
But newly installed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called Sessions this week to assure the attorney general his job was not in jeopardy, two sources told CNN.
Friday, Sessions said the Trump administration has “tripled” the number of active leak probes, but did not say how many investigations are occurring.
“I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don’t do it,” he said.
Speaking to reporters after Sessions’ speech, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein did not answer on whether any leaks have put American lives at risk. Asked if the department would change its practice of not prosecuting journalists, Rosenstein would not rule out the possibility, saying he would not answer a hypothetical.
The Justice Department earlier this year arrested one person they have accused of leaking classified information — Reality Winner, an Atlanta woman and federal contractor.