As stories containing closely held intelligence details keep on coming, the White House and Congress have launched serious and expansive investigations into who is leaking information to the press.
While Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this week former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn was asked to resign over an irreconcilable breach of trust, the issue of people inside government leaking damaging information for political purposes has been a main focus within the administration.
First, President Trump is livid. Over the past two days Trump has repeatedly called leaks a "criminal act" and said at the White House today, "We're going to find the leakers and they're going to pay a big price."
The spotlight has finally been put on the low-life leakers! They will be caught!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
Leaking, and even illegal classified leaking, has been a big problem in Washington for years. Failing @nytimes (and others) must apologize!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 16, 2017
Trump is reportedly looking into appointing longtime friend and Wall Street executive Stephen Feinberg to do an extensive review of the intelligence community.
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein are expressing their own concerns about intelligence leaks to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey.
"We are writing to request a briefing for the Judiciary Committee during the week of the 27th regarding the circumstances that led to the recent resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. According to media reports, both the FBI and the Justice Department were involved. These reports raise substantial questions about the content and context of Mr. Flynn’s discussions with Russian officials, the conclusions reached by the Justice Department and the actions it took in response, as well as possible leaks of classified information by current and former government employees," Grassley and Feinstein wrote in a letter Wednesday.
"Accordingly, we request that individuals with specific knowledge of these issues from both the FBI and Justice Department brief Committee Members and staff. We similarly request copies of the transcripts of Mr. Flynn’s intercepted calls and the FBI report summarizing the intercepted calls referenced in the media. We anticipate that some of these documents may be classified, some may not, and others may contain both classified and unclassified information. Please deliver any documents containing classified information to the Office of Senate Security and provide all unclassified documents directly to the Committee. If you have any specific requests with regard to the Committee’s handling of unclassified material, please raise those with us in advance," they continued.
Late Wednesday evening, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte asked DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to do an independent, internal investigation about where leaks are coming from.
"Over the last several days, there have been a series of news articles recounting potentially classified security information. These include reports on communications of or regarding the President's former National Security Advisor, Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (ret.)," a letter sent to Horowitz late Wednesday states.
"We have serious concerns about the potential inadequate protection of classified information here. Federal laws, and the Constitution, distinguish law enforcement investigation authorities from intelligence collection authorities for good reason, and in neither case is collection intended to enable the government's publication of conversations surreptitiously recorded by intelligence agencies. Similarly, the release of classified national security information can, by definition, have grave effects on national security. In light of this, we request that your office begin an immediate investigation into whether classified information was mishandled here."
There's a bipartisan full court press to plug the holes.