Anti-Trump Leaks are Against the Law. So Where’s the Investigation?

Why isn't there an investigation into the flood of leaks coming out of the White House and intelligence agencies?

By Rachel Alexander Published on May 22, 2017

A lot of people even in the White House are leaking stories to hurt Donald Trump. Are they committing felonies? If the information they give to the media affects national security, then yes.

Disclosing classified information relating to U.S. or foreign communications intelligence activities is a felony. The leaker can go to prison for 10 years and be fined as well.

It May Still Be a Felony

But even if it doesn’t rise to that level, it may still be a felony. Federal employees can’t reveal confidential information to the press without permission. It’s considered theft to convey “any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof.” It carries the same stiff penalty. Additionally, federal employees are generally subject to nondisclosure agreements.

Every presidential administration leaks. Sometimes the leakers rightly expose wrongful behavior. Many are protected by whistleblower laws. Look at Watergate.

What’s different now is the scope. The Washington Post ran an article on President Trump firing FBI Director James Comey based on “the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI and on Capitol Hill, as well as Trump confidants and other senior Republicans.”

Conservative writer Jonah Goldberg talked to reporters who say the leaks are in part due to the lack of experience of many working at the White House.

That may explain a few of the leaks. But for the most part, they seem “coordinated and timed” to hurt Trump. That’s what the administration believes. The Trump campaign sent an email to supporters entitled “SABOTAGE,” condemning the leaks. And in a tweet, the president complained that he’d been asking the FBI and others to investigate the leaks, apparently without success.

Some of the leaks may not even be leaks, but made-up stories to make the president look bad. Making false statements in the course of a federal investigation is a felony. Trump has tweeted that he believes the leaks rise to the level of crimes.

The Most Important Leaks

What are the most important leaks? First, the leaks after Trump fired FBI director James Comey. Some aides told the media that Trump did it to stop the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with the Russians to influence the presidential election.

As a result, Congress stepped up its own probe into Trump, and pressure mounted to appoint an independent investigator. Trump agreed to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller for this task last week.

The second example is the leaks saying Trump had provided highly classified information about ISIS to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the U.S. The leaker gave the story to The Washington Post. He said it put an intelligence source at risk.

Yet that is merely the leaker’s opinion. Besides, Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster (quoted in the story) said that he was in the  meeting and Trump said nothing that wasn’t already public. “At no time were any intelligence sources or methods discussed and no military operations were disclosed that were not already known publicly,” he said.

Dina Powell, a deputy national security adviser, who was also at the meeting, said, “This story is false. The president only discussed the common threats that both countries faced.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained, “During that exchange the nature of specific threats were discussed, but they did not discuss sources, methods or military operations.”

Trump defended his conversation on Twitter, “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.”

So, do you trust the leaker — who probably dislikes Trump and has an agenda to make the president look bad. Or do you trust Trump and the top-level officials around him who were at the meeting?

The New York Times confirmed that Israel was the source of the information. That means that if the leaker was correct about the seriousness of the information, he (or she) may have put national security at risk by revealing it.

Leaks About Michael Flynn

Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is suspected of leaking classified information to the press regarding former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn lying to Vice President Mike Pence about talking to the Russian ambassador.

Again, releasing this information could jeopardize U.S.-Russian relations. If Russia believes its private conversations are going to be made public, it may be less willing to cooperate with the U.S.

Lack of Outrage Over Leaks

There hasn’t been much outrage over the leaks. Instead, the mainstream media, Congress and the FBI are focusing on the substance of the leaks. Concern is directed at whether Trump did anything wrong. So far, there has been no evidence Trump has. The leaks are compared to Watergate — but no evidence of Trump’s wrongdoing has emerged. Each new leak accuses the president of a different type of crime but nothing sticks.

Shouldn’t there be at least one probe into the leaks?

The mainstream media seems so intent on taking Trump down that they risk running information that may be classified and harmful. While the laws against leaking don’t generally apply to journalists, journalists can be prosecuted for failing to reveal the source of the leak. Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to divulge the source of the Valerie Plame leak, Scooter Libby. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name,” Trump said during a speech in February. “Let their name be put out there.”

There are three separate probes of Trump — by Congress, the FBI and the newly appointed special investigator Mueller. Shouldn’t there be at least one probe into the likely criminal leaks?


Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC

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