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Leaks Crackdown
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, accompanied by, from left, National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017, on leaks of classified material threatening national security. (AP Andrew Harnik)

Top Trump officials addressed the 'staggering' number of intelligence leaks


Updated August 04, 2017 11:17 AM EDT

Attorney General Jeff Sessions stood in solidarity with President Trump on Friday while discussing the "staggering" number of intelligence leaks released to the American media, adding that the Department of Justice "is open for business" to prosecute those who disclose classified information.

He cited statistics to back up that claim, saying that the Justice Department has tripped the number of active investigations regarding the subject.

"In the first six months, the Justice Department received as many criminal referrals involving the unauthorized disclosure of information as those received in the previous three years combined," Sessions said during the briefing.

Change will only occur, Sessions noted, if a stand is taken against the culture of leaking information.

"Don't do it," Sessions warned those who may be thinking about releasing information.

Following Sessions remarks, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats similarly expressed "grave concern" about the number of intelligence leaks, saying that they jeopardize the safety and security of Americans, as well as give foreign adversaries an advantage.

"We won't tolerate it," Coats said defiantly. "We will find you."

He continued, "We will will prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law, and you will nto be happy with the result."

A host of top Trump officials are expected to join hands Friday morning to address the administration's ongoing efforts to combat intelligence leaks coming from within the White House, according to a Justice Department announcement. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and National Counterintelligence and Security Center Director William Evanina, will deliver on- and off-camera remarks at 11 a.m. on "‘leaks of classified material threatening national security."

According to CBS News' Paula Reid, the briefing will discuss on-going leak investigations, including those related to the Manchester terror attack. Officials in Manchester said they would no longer share intelligence with the United States regarding the bombing of a concert hall because of the slew of leaks to the American media about the attack.

The public remarks will surface one week after Sessions had suggested to Fox News' host Tucker Carlson that the penalties for leaking information must be more severe.

"I have not been happy with the past prosecutions and investigations of criminal leaks."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions

At the same time, he also acknowledged the Justice Department's plans to ramp up its prosecutions of criminal leaks, adding that "people need to go to jail."

"We already have multiples, numbers of prosecutions compared to last year at this time," he continued. "We’re stepping up those cases. It cannot continue."

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