U.S. vows crackdown on staggering leaks, warns leakers

For months, President Trump and key Republican lawmakers have been calling on the Justice Department to investigate leaks, asking the department to find out who disclosed to reporters classified information surrounding the US government's ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year's presidential election.

The assertion came a day after The Washington Post posted highly classified transcripts of Trumps conversations with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"No government can be effective when its leaders cannot discuss sensitive matters in confidence or talk freely in confidence with foreign leaders", said Sessions as he was joined by top intelligence officials to talk about the dramatic growth in the number of unauthorised disclosures of classified national security information in recent months. "First, I directed my Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein-whose district in Maryland encompassed the NSA headquarters and who has personally led these kinds of investigations- and FBI Director Christopher Wray to oversee all classified leak investigations and actively monitor the progress of each and every case", Sessions said.

"These national security breaches do not just originate in the intelligence community", Coats stated.

Sessions says the department is reviewing guidelines related to subpoenas of journalists.

Sessions announced no new leak cases, but told reporters that the Department of Justice has tripled the number of leak investigations and created a new counterintelligence squad at the FBI to handle them.

"We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited", Sessions said in prepared remarks.

He said the suspects stood accused of unlawfully divulging classified information or concealing contacts with foreign intelligence officers.

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"I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don't do it", Sessions said. "We must balance the press' role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in the intelligence community, the Armed Forces and all law-abiding Americans".

The attorney general would not give details about specific investigations, but said four individuals had already been charged with the unlawful release of sensitive government information.

"Anyone who engages in these criminal acts is betraying the intelligence community and the American people", he said.

"We will find out, we will investigate you, we will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law and you will not be happy with the result", he said. In the eyes of many on the right, those actions have tainted special counselor Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling.

"It's easier to figure out who's leaking than the leakers may realize", Conway said on Fox News.

In the latest embarrassment for Trump, The Washington Post published transcripts Thursday of his rocky post-inauguration telephone conversations with the leaders of Mexico and Australia.

Asked if lie detectors might be used, she answered, "Well, they may, they may not".


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