What does U.S. law say about White House staffers leaking Trump dirt to the press?

"Until Trump can remedy his problem of credibility and faith, the truth will find a way."

That's the kicker from a timely essay on "The Law of Leaks" published at LAWFARE blog today, as Donald Trump browbeats and threatens would-be whistleblowers against releasing any more truths about the turmoil and corruption bubbling over in the most dysfunctional administration ever.


The Trump administration is riddled with leaks from bow to stern, and the last 24 hours have shown us that persistent breaches may very well sink this ship. The constant flow of embarrassing information paints a fractious and incompetent White House, an unstable and immature Commander-in-Chief, and near-daily blunders both diplomatic and domestic. And beyond the daily embarrassment, the persistent leaks reveal ongoing counterintelligence investigations. The hull is taking on water, and yesterday the Administration sacrificed its first crewmember in a desperate maneuver to stay afloat.

These leaks both raise genuine security concerns and also have grave political implications for the future of the administration itself. This heightens the risk of a Kissingeresque situation or one in which facially legitimate leak investigations become a tool of political retaliation. In defending against this risk—or at least identifying the existence of politically-motivated leaks investigations—it is important to understand the substantial complexity of the law and practice of investigating and prosecuting leaks.

To that end, below is an examination of the laws surrounding government leaks, how the White House might seek to investigate and remedy its major information control failings, and what the nature of leak investigations and enforcement mean for executive information control.

The Law of Leaks, By Susan Hennessey, Helen Klein Murillo [LAWFARE]