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During today’s House Intelligence Committee hearing, Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy asked FBI Director James Comey if reporters who published classified information were protected by law and implied that members of the media are complicit in leaking classified information by the nature of the law

He began by asking Comey about laws to protect journalists who publish classified information, to which Comey said, “That’s a harder question.” He acknowledged that this is not the first administration to face leaks of classified information, but that the Trump administration has seen an unusual volume of leaks since Trump took office. He said many administrations had struggled with the issue.


Rep. Gowdy pointed out that the distribution of classified information includes the publication of it; prosecution of “publication” is, in fact, explicitly provided for in the language of the law (18 U.S. Code § 798).

“Lots of people have struggled with it, but you’re not aware of an exception in the current dissemination of classified exception for reporters?” Gowdy asked.

Comey was not. He added that he was unaware of the prosecution of any reporters for publishing classified information in his lifetime. But that didn’t satisfy Gowdy, who said, “There have been a lot of statutes for which no one has been prosecuted or convicted, and that does not keep people from discussing those statutes, namely the Logan Act.”

His comments have been interpreted by some as indicative of a renewed interest in prosecuting journalists who publish classified information.

Gowdy also asked who in the Obama Administration had access to intelligence on departed National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, seemingly supporting the theory that those leaking classified information could be former Obama Administration officials, including President Obama himself.

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