Chelsea Clinton said on Twitter that she donated to the American Civil Liberties Union after hearing Attorney General Jeff Sessions announce his plans to crackdown on leakers to the press.
“Thank you for your support,” the ACLU replied.
“A crackdown on leaks is a crackdown on the free press and on democracy as a whole,” the ACLU said in a statement on its Twitter page. “Our founders knew democracy depends on informed citizens and leaders can’t be trusted to disclose info that reflects poorly on themselves. These first months of the Trump administration dramatically illustrate that point. Can anyone seriously argue our country would be better off if the public received all of its information through official channels alone?”
During his speech on Friday, Sessions said the number of unauthorized leaks “exploded” after President Donald Trump took office. “This culture of leaking must stop,” Sessions said, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats by his side.
“We will investigate and seek to bring criminals to justice,” Sessions said. “We will not allow rogue anonymous sources with security clearances to sell out our country any longer.”
Sessions said that the Department of Justice does respect the media, but is looking into issuing more subpoenas to find out who the leakers are.
“We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity,” Sessions said. “We must balance their role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, the armed forces, and all law abiding Americans.”
Sessions’ speech came a day after The Washington Post published the full transcripts of Trump’s January phone calls with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Sessions said that Rosenstein and new FBI Director Christopher Wray are minitoring every investigation into leaks. According to the Washington Post, Sessions said during the press conference that prosecutors charged four people with leaking classified information or keeping contact with foreign officers a secret.
As the Post explains, the DOJ previously avoided investigating journalists themselves during leak investigations, focusing on the government employees first. It’s only after exhausting that route that they traditionally turned to journalists.
“We are reviewing the entire process of how we conduct media leak investigations by responding to issues that have been raised by our career prosecutors and agents,” Rosenstein said today. “We’re taking basically a fresh look at it… We don’t know yet what if any changes we want to make but we are taking a fresh look.’’