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Trump Administration Cracks Down on Leakers

  • VOA News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accompanied by, from left, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Aug

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters Friday that he has tripled the number of "active leak" investigations over the tally during the Obama administration, in an effort to stem the tide of classified information being released to the media by people in the Trump administration, intelligence community and other government entities.

Sessions said he and President Donald Trump "condemn in the strongest terms the staggering number of leaks undermining the ability of our government to protect this country."

He added, "No one is entitled to surreptitiously fight their battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information."

WATCH: Sessions on cracking down on leakers

Friday's news briefing came a day after transcripts were released of the president's telephone conversations with foreign leaders in his first few days of the Trump administration.

In those conversations, the president cajoles Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto not to refuse publicly to pay for the wall Trump wants to build along the U.S. border with Mexico. He also has a heated argument with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on refugees, complaining that the situation is going to make him look bad.

'Major' security threat

Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence, described the leaks as "some of the worst compromises of classified information in our nation's history."

"These disclosures have resulted in a major threat to our national security," he warned.

WATCH: Coats warns leakers


Coats pointed out the security breaches do not just originate in the intelligence community. "They come from a wide range of sources within the government, including the executive branch and including the Congress," Coats added.

The DNI chief said people with information of consequence should take legal means to share the information and not resort to leaks. "It is important to stress that any disclosure outside of authorized channels is a criminal offense. And we will simply not tolerate the illegal release of classified information," he said.

Coats promised that his agency will take steps to identify leakers and will give that information to the FBI for a full investigation.

"If you improperly disclose classified information, we will find you," Coats said. "We will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law, and you will not be happy with the result."

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