According to Trey Yingst of One America News Network, Team Trump has identified three sources of the leaks flowing so liberally from the White House. He also reports that “multiple people” will be fired when President Trump returns from his trip abroad.
Why haven’t the leakers already been fired? Yingst says it’s because their names are “being run by the Office of Government Ethics.” (What that means, and for what purpose, is unclear to me.)
Yingst also says the possibility of criminal prosecution is on the table. If true, that’s good news.
Leaking that Trump screamed at the television when he saw a report on James Comey’s investigation is not a crime. However, leaking classified information without authorization is.
Thus, for example, whoever read to the New York Times excerpts from the memorandum of conversation of President Trump’s meeting with top Russian officials is guilty of a crime. If the administration has identified this leaker, he or she should be prosecuted to the max.
As Michael Gerson, a fierce critic of Trump and his administration, says:
Th[e] [memorandum of conversation] is a document of very limited distribution. According to sources I consulted, it typically would not have even been given to the director of the CIA. This was a leak of an extremely sensitive and highly classified document by a very senior person. . . .
Whoever read this material over the telephone to a reporter was playing for the highest stakes. He or she was also risking not only a career, but a prison term. If the leaker is exposed, this administration will give no quarter.
As someone who handled classified material during the George W. Bush administration, I can attest to the deadly seriousness of these matters. This type of high-level leak leaves the president and his inner circle unable to trust his team. It leaves foreign officials unable to feel confident in the confidentially of the highest-level diplomatic discussions. And it points to a foreign policy establishment that is making political judgments, which involve serious dangers. . . .
A leak of classified material to damage the president is the abrogation of a professional standard, and the arrogation of democratic authority. It can lead to a very bad place, in which national security and law enforcement officials are engaged in payback or (worse) pursuing political goals beyond their remit. This undermines the authority of the institutions they serve by confirming the view, held by a significant number of Americans, that the “system” is somehow rigged.
Gerson blames Trump for creating “the snake-pit atmosphere in which leaks are incessant.” True or not, it is up to Trump to crack down.
The other day, I wrote:
A successful presidency does not depend on major legislative accomplishment in the first 100 days. It depends more on establishing a stable, loyal team and gaining public confidence by avoiding unforced errors during the early days of an administration.
To accomplish these two things, President Trump needs quickly to step up his game.
Firing leakers and prosecuting the ones who leaked classified information would be a good start.