KAYLEIGH MCENANY, WHITE HOUSE: Hello, everyone. The front page of the New York Times is not the venue for discussing classified information. The White House podium is not the venue for discussing classified information.
We are here today having this discussion because of an irresponsible anonymous leak to the New York Times. There is no good scenario as a result of this New York Times report. Who’s going to want to co-op–cooperate with the United States intelligence community? Who is going to want to be a source or an asset if they know that their identity could be disclosed? Which allies will want to share information with us if they know that some rogue intelligence officer can go splash that information on the front page of a major U.S. newspaper?
Specifically, there are two bad scenarios that emerge from this report. Number one, this report makes it more difficult to come to a consensus on this matter, to verify intelligence. And number two, this level of controversy and discord plays directly into the hands of Russia and unfortunately serves their interests.
Since before President Trump assumed office, damaging and oftentimes erroneous leaks seeking to undermine or delegitimize the duly-elected president have been published. According to the DOJ, classified leaks surged in this administration. There were under President Obama just 39, on average, criminal leak referrals. In this administration, we have seen 100 criminal leak referrals to the DOJ in 2017, 88 in 2018 and 104 on average per year.
We have seen targeted leaks of classified information against this president and it is irresponsible; phone calls with foreign leaders, meetings with government officials, and now reports of alleged intelligence. Make no mistake, this damages our ability as a nation to collect intelligence.
As the National Security Council noted just yesterday, to those government officials who betray the trust of the people of the United States by leaking classified information, your actions endanger our national security. The ODNI said the selective leaking of any classified information disrupts the vital interagency work to collect, assess, and mitigate threats, and places our forces at risk. It is also, simply put, a crime. And finally, CIA said this, that leaks compromise and disrupt the critical interagency work to collect, assess, and ascribe culpability.
To the anonymous sources who leaked classified information, you should know this. You make seek to undermine our president, but in fact you undermine our country’s safety and our country’s security.