President Donald Trump has faced seven times more national security leaks during the first 126 days of his administration than the previous two administrations. That figure includes many leaks from the intelligence community that were aimed at embarrassing Trump but have damaged U.S. national security, according to a new Senate report.
“Since President Trump assumed office, our nation has faced an unprecedented wave of potentially damaging leaks of information,” said the report from the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
The report showed that the Trump administration faced 125 leaks potentially damaging to national security in 126 days — a “conservative estimate,” it noted.
A more narrow search, confined to five major outlets, showed the Trump White House faced 62 leaks, compared to eight under the Obama administration, and nine under the George W. Bush administration.
“Under President Trump’s predecessors, leaks of national security information were relatively rare, even with America’s vibrant free press,” the report found.
The report warned that the leaks have “real world consequences for national security” and recommended that federal law enforcement officials investigate the leaks:
These leaks do not occur in a vacuum. They can, and do, have real world consequences for national security. 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 report also noted: “All such revelations are potential violations of federal law, punishable by jail time.”
Although a “patchwork” of laws exists to address leaks, the Espionage Act remains the primary law addressing them, the report said.
“Violations of the Espionage Act are punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment, as are violations of a separate statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(1), which prohibits the communication of classified information retrieved from a computer if the information ‘could be used to the injury of the United States,’” it said.
The report noted that arguments often used to justify leaks — that they are intended to bring light to potential illegality, unwise policies, or concerns about the president’s temperament — have no legal basis.
No accused leaker has ever been acquitted based on an argument that the public interest was so great that it justified a leak, the report said.
The report said a review of the sources cited in news reports containing those leaks indicates they are “coming from across the government” — with some “clearly from within the intelligence community.”
The report concludes that the balance between a free press and national security is “now under threat.” The report concludes:
“President Trump and his administration have faced apparent leaks on nearly a daily basis, potentially imperiling national security at a time of growing threats at home and abroad.
“The commander-in-chief needs to be able to effectively manage U.S. security, intelligence operations and foreign relations without worrying that his most private meetings, calls and deliberations will be outed for the entire world to see.
“As [national security lawyer Mark] Zaid concludes: ‘One day history will judge the consequences of these actions.’”
A bombshell report just released by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs details how an explosive uptick in leaks of classified information during the Trump Administration has been extremely dangerous to our national security.
The report, “State Secrets: How an Avalanche of Media Leaks is Harming National Security,” provides shocking details about how dangerous and extensive these national security leaks have been.
In the first 126 days of the Trump Administration there were 125 leaked stories from within the deep state shadow government that were “potentially damaging to national security.” That’s a leak a day.
Compared with the first days of the Bush and Obama administrations, the total of combined leaks in both administrations in the same period was only 36 leaks. We knew the leaks were bad, but this is beyond the pale. It’s quite frankly astonishing and extremely dangerous to our national security.
The report details:
Under the direction of Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, majority committee staff examined media leaks between January 20, 2017, and May 25, 2017—President Trump’s first 126 days in office. The examination consisted entirely of publicly available news articles; no classified information was accessed or reviewed. The inquiry found:
• The Trump administration faced 125 leaked stories—one leak a day— containing information that is potentially damaging to national security under the standards laid out in a 2009 Executive Order signed by President Barack Obama.
• Leaks with the capacity to damage national security flowed about seven times faster under President Trump than during President Obama’s and President George W. Bush’s first 126 days.
• The majority of leaks during the Trump administration, 78, concerned the Russia probes, with many revealing closely-held information such as intelligence community intercepts, FBI interviews and intelligence, grand jury subpoenas, and even the workings of a secret surveillance court.
• Other leaks disclosed potentially sensitive intelligence on U.S. adversaries or possible military plans against them. One leak, about the investigation of a terrorist attack, caused a diplomatic incident between the United States and a close ally.
As the report further notes:
Federal law prohibits the unauthorized release of certain information that could damage our national security. The protection of our nation’s secrets is essential to protecting intelligence activities, sources and methods, preserving the ability of the President to effectively achieve foreign policy objectives, and ultimately to safeguard our country. In short, the unauthorized disclosure of certain information can cost American lives, and our laws protecting this information provide for harsh punishments when violated. Since President Trump assumed office, our nation has faced an unprecedented wave of potentially damaging leaks of information protected by these important laws. . . .
As The New York Times wrote in a candid self-assessment: “Journalism in the Trump era has featured a staggering number of leaks from sources across the federal government.” No less an authority than President Obama’s CIA director called the deluge of state secrets “appalling.” These leaks do not occur in a vacuum. They can, and do, have real world consequences for national security. 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.
As disturbing as the sheer number of leaks are, it is compounded by the fact that the report represents a “conservative” estimate of the leaks. As Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, explained in a letter to Attorney General Sessions:
By necessity, this examination was not comprehensive, and it required some judgement calls on which leaks constituted potential damage to national security. Leaks of information that were borderline in terms of the criteria outlined in Executive Order 13526 were not included in the total. This analysis, if anything, presents a conservative estimate of the volume of leaks of information potentially damaging to national security during the Trump Administration.
Yet, here is how the mainstream media is characterizing this deluge of leaks and the important work of protecting our national security. For example, Politico’s headline:
“Trump’s leaks crackdown sends chills through national security world
Agency officials say measures have been taken to isolate leakers, creating a culture of fear.”
It’s absurd. Leakers should be afraid. They should go to jail. Violations of the Espionage Act should be aggressively prosecuted.
The deep state is real. We’re fighting back against the shadow government in federal court, working to expose and stop the leaks. We will redouble our efforts. The American people deserve answers.
Senator Johnson has already sent Attorney General Sessions a letter informing him of the report and urging that the Department of Justice (DOJ) take decisive action.
Going a step further, we’re urging the creation of a special unit inside the DOJ and FBI to investigate and prosecute these leaks.
Our national security must be protected and the leaks must be stopped.