Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates presented an aggressive new strategy for curtailing intelligence leaks Friday.
“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 during a Friday press conference in Washington.
“We are taking a stand,” he added. “This culture of leaking must stop.”
Sessions says the Department of Justice (DOJ) has tripled the number of open and active leak investigations, the result, he said, of an unprecedented increase in complaints to the Department about unauthorized disclosures. Though he declined to speak about specific probes, in keeping with longstanding DOJ policy, four individuals have been charged in connection with these inquiries.
The AG said the FBI has dedicated significant resources to these investigations, and created a new unit within the FBI to coordinate federal efforts.
Sessions further directed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray to personally oversee classified leak investigations, and ordered U.S. attorneys to prioritize prosecutions of leakers.
“I have this message for the intelligence community,” Sessions said. “The Department of Justice is open for business.”
The AG’s conservative allies seized on Friday’s announcement as proof positive of his prowess atop the DOJ. Trump has repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with Sessions in recent weeks, particularly with respect to his decision to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s repeated broadsides raised the prospect that Sessions would be dismissed, a possibility which grew more acute as their personal relationship became increasingly strained.
Though White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has reportedly informed Sessions that his job is safe, the AG’s allies appear to hope Friday’s announcement will go some distance towards re-securing the president’s favor.
“From aggressively pursuing the leaking of classified information that puts innocent Americans at risk, to efforts that will secure our borders, to cracking on down on drugs and gangs, and especially being more supportive of local and national law enforcement, the DOJ under Jeff Sessions has been a breath of fresh air and he will make all Americans proud,” said former Sen. Jim DeMint, founder of the newly chartered Conservative Partnership Institute.
Ken Blackwell, an Ohio politician turned policy advisor for the Trump transition, said the news vindicated the president’s decision to keep Sessions as attorney general.
“President Trump made the right move in sticking with him as the Department’s priorities of rule of law, public safety, and securing our borders are such a welcome change from the recent past,” he said.
The White House has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiries.
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