United States vows crackdown on staggering leaks, warns leakers

Sessions' announcement certainly didn't sit well with NBC's Chuck Todd, who said on Twitter that he would ignore the subpoena if the new policy goes into effect. Trump has repeatedly expressed his dissatisfaction with Sessions in recent weeks, particularly with respect to his decision to recuse himself from the ongoing investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

He said authorities would take strong measures to stop "the culture of leaking".

"We are prepared to take all necessary steps to one identify individuals who illegally expose and disclose classified information", said Coats, who argued they have put American operatives, troops, and sensitive programs at risk.

The Trump administration has implemented a new unit at the Federal Bureau of Investigation dedicated to probing the "staggering number of leaks" and to reviewing the DOJ's current policies affecting subpoenas to the media, Sessions said.

President Trump has been pushing Sessions to be more aggressive in prosecuting illegal government leaks, which have bedeviled the administration from the start.

Sessions said that, in a six-month period, the Justice Department had received nearly as many criminal referrals involving disclosures of classified information as it had in the past three years combined.

"I've listened to our career investigators, FBI agents and others, and of prosecutors about how to most successfully investigate and prosecute these matters", Sessions said. "Simultaneously, the Department is reviewing policies that impact leak investigations", he continued.

"Referrals for investigations of classified leaks to the Department of Justice from our intelligence agencies have exploded", Sessions said.

"I have a message for the intelligence community: The Department of Justice is open for business".

"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", he said.

Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, promised that he would help with the crackdown.

The attorney general said four people are already being prosecuted to allegedly leaking, though he did not provide any details.

Coates confirmed he will be working closely with DOJ to prosecute leakers to the fullest extent of the law and said the dissemination of classified information is a betrayal to the country.

Anger in the White House about leaks has been growing of late.

"No one is entitled to surreptitiously fight to advance battles in the media by revealing sensitive government information", Sessions said after referencing the call logs released Thursday. "Leaks to the media are not whistleblowing", Rosenstein said.

The Justice Department under President Obama pursued former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked sensitive information about USA surveillance practices to The Washington Post and The Guardian.

Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway told "Fox & Friends" that "it's easier to figure out who's leaking than the leakers may realize".

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