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Rosenstein: "We're After The Leakers, We're Not After Journalists"

Two days after Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats announced a crackdown on Trump administration leakers that could involve subpoenas to journalists, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein took to the Sunday talk shows to emphasize that the DOJ isn't targeting journalists.

But despite Sessions' emphasis that the DOJ respects the privileges of the press, but that those privileges don’t extend to publishing classified information that puts lives at risk, members of the media still expressed outrage at the notion that they be compelled to reveal their sources.

Most reporters view the relationship between sources and the media as sacred, and most vow not to divulge the identities of sources.

In an interview on Fox News, Rosenstein said there’s been no change in policy with regard to journalists and their reporting on the Trump administration.

“I think that’s an overreaction the attorney general has been very clear,” Rosenstein said. “We're after the leakers. We’re not after journalists we’re after people who are committing crimes.”

Trump has in the past suggested that reporters who publish classified information should be prosecuted, the interviewer noted. But Rosenstein insisted that the DOJ has no plans to follow through with any prosecutions involving reporters. DOJ is applying the same scrutiny of reporters that former AGs Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch did while they were in office.

However, Rosenstein didn't entirely rule out a prosecution if one were warranted. Most journalists don’t commit criminal acts during their reporting, Rosenstein said. But, “depending on the facts and circumstances,” the possibility that a reporter could cross the line shouldn't be ruled out.

“We have the same position as Attorney General Holder. We don’t prosecute journalists for doing their jobs we consider the facts and circumstances on each case.”

“Generally speaking, reporters who are publishing information are not committing a crime.

 

But there might be a circumstance where they do. I haven’t seen any of those to date, but I wouldn’t rule it out in the event there were a case. If a reporter is violating the law then they might be a suspect as well.”

In summary, Rosenstein is reiterating that journalists will be treated with the same scrutiny as every other American under the law. But leakers, who in some cases are committing felony offenses, will be prosecuted.