Former Prosecutors have said that whoever was responsible for leaking the transcripts of President Trump’s phone calls with foreign leaders to the press has likely committed a crime, Fox News reports.
The Washington Post reported that it had transcripts of the leaked phone calls President Trump made to Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull just after he assumed office.In the conversations, Trump reportedly told Peña Nieto to stop publicly saying Mexico would not pay for a border wall.
Former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Joe DiGenova told Fox News. “The series of acts involving the release of notes of the president’s conversations with foreign leaders, and these transcripts, are a serious threat to national security”. Washington Post said they obtained the transcripts of the calls from White House staff and were based on records by White House note takers.
Former federal prosecutor Doug Burns also said: “There is a federal statute that makes it a crime, a federal crime, to disseminate classified information to an unauthorized person”. This comes amid tensions in the White House also tied to leaks of classified information to the Press.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and National Counter intelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina are all expected to brief the public at Justice Department headquarters.
To prosecute someone for leaking intelligence, Burns said there are “certain elements that obviously have to be shown”. Some of those considerations include; the markings and history of the document and its exact classification. “If all of those things can be proven, people can very definitely be in harm’s way for criminal exposure, no question”, he said.
DiGenova said the transcripts are “generally classified as secret and above”, He called on Sessions to institute a federal criminal grand jury to find the leakers, suggesting that phone records of the reporters and editors of The Washington Post be subpoenaed.
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee said Thursday there should be criminal prosecution for leaking classified information. “Whoever leaked these needs to be found out and needs to be reprimanded, needs to be fired, this is unacceptable and should never happen”. He added, “doing something like this could not only and should not only result in termination but also criminal prosecution to the extent there’s classified information involved,” he said.
Many are appalled by the extent to which leaks in the White House have grown and are concerned about its effect on U.S international relations and ability to make foreign policy. Attorney General Jeff Session speaking to Fox News Tucker Carlson last week said he has not been satisfied with the efforts to investigate leaks.
“I have not been happy with the past prosecutions and investigations of criminal leaks,” Sessions said.