Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein acknowledged Sunday that “anybody who breaks the law” -- including White House staffers and members of Congress -- could be prosecuted, as the Justice Department heightens its efforts to stop leaks of classified information.
Rosenstein made the comments on "Fox News Sunday," amid a torrent of damaging leaks to President Trump’s administration and several days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the department has expanded efforts to crack down on the problem.
Rosenstein also made clear that the focus of the investigations is the leaks and how they are likely damaging to national security.
“We look at facts and circumstances, what was the potential harm caused by the leak,” he said in response to questions about whether White House staffers and members of Congress would be included. “That is more important than who is the leaker. … If it warrants prosecution we will prosecute. … Anybody who breaks the law.”
Rosenstein also made clear that the department isn’t targeting journalists who publish leaks but suggested those who break the law could be prosecuted.
“We’re after the leakers, not the journalists,” he said. “We don't prosecute journalists for doing their jobs."
However, Rosenstein reiterated what Sessions said Friday about reviewing department policies on subpoenaing reporters to force them to reveal sources.
He also confirmed Sessions’ assessment Friday that the department is pursuing roughly three times as many leaks investigations, or referrals, compared to the previous Obama administration, though he repeatedly declined to give specific numbers.
And he confirmed Sessions’ statement that the FBI has created a new unit to handle the investigations.