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Senate Report: WH Facing 'Unprecedented Wave' of Media Leaks

Image: Senate Report: WH Facing 'Unprecedented Wave' of Media Leaks
(Photo by Calla Kessler/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 03:11 PM

The Trump administration has faced an average of one leak per day to news organizations during its first 126 days — "seven times faster" than the Obama and George W. Bush administrations combined — that have been "potentially damaging" to national security, according to a new Senate report released Thursday.

Seventy-eight of the leaks concerned investigations into Russian involvement during the November election and issues of possible collusion with the Trump campaign, according to the report.

"To ensure the security of our country’s most sensitive information, federal law enforcement officials ought to thoroughly investigate leaks of potentially sensitive information flowing at an alarming rate," the document's executive summary said.

The 24-page report was developed by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.

It was submitted to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and calls on the nation's law enforcement agencies to increase their investigations into such breaches.

The document — "State Secrets: How an Avalanche of Media Leaks is Harming National Security" — cited an "unprecedented wave" of "alarming" and "potentially damaging" leaks to media organizations.

Johnson noted in a letter to Sessions with the report that "if anything," the document constituted only a "conservative estimate" of the number of leaks during the Trump administration.

According to the report, President Donald Trump's White House experienced one leak per day in news reports between his inauguration on Jan. 20 and May 25, his 126th day in office.

The nature of the breaches were measured based on standards specified in a 2009 executive order signed by then-President Barack Obama.

"Articles published by a range of national news organizations between Jan. 20 and May 25, 2017, included at least 125 stories with leaked information potentially damaging to national security," according to the summary.

Additionally, the leaks were "potential violations of federal law, punishable by jail time.

"It is also apparent that the arguments often used to justify leaks are at odds with the Trump administration — that leakers are bringing to light potential illegality, unwise policies, or concerns about the President’s temperament — have no legal basis," the report noted.

According to the document, 78 leaks were connected to the Russia probe, disclosing information intercepted by the intelligence community, interviews conducted by the FBI — as well as grand jury subpoenas, and "the workings of a secret surveillance court."

However, the report concluded that "no single law governs unauthorized disclosures," though it cited possible violations of the U.S. Espionage Act, which could bring maximum penalties of 10 years in prison.

In his letter, Johnson told Sessions that the Justice Department bared the "responsibility" of deciding whether the leaks justified criminal prosecution.

"By necessity, this examination was not comprehensive, and it required some judgment calls on which leaks constituted potential damage to national security," Johnson said.

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The Trump administration has faced an average of one leak per day to news organizations during its first 126 days — "seven times faster" than the Obama and George W. Bush administrations combined — that have been "potentially damaging" to national security, according to a...
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2017-11-06
Thursday, 06 Jul 2017 03:11 PM
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