Yesterday, the White House continued to push back against allegations that it approved classified leaks to the media, but Republicans aren’t buying it. Rep. Peter King is the latest high-profile Republican to claim the White House authorized the leaks for political gain:
A top House Republican on Sunday rejected President Obama’s claim that recent security leaks did not come from the White House, accusing the president of using the leaks — which detailed the administration’s counterterror programs — to “build up his reputation” before November.
“He’s trying to be like George Patton or John Wayne,” Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., told Fox News. …
“This is the most shameful cascade of leaks I’ve ever heard or seen in government,” he said. “It’s clear from those stories this came right from the White House, came right from the National Security Council, came right from the Situation Room. … It has to lead to people very high up in the administration in his White House.”
King alleged that the leaks must have been “approved from the top,” and accused the president of grandstanding in an election year.
The Justice Department has already launched an investigation into the leaks, which could obviously pose some conflicts of interest. In a column in the New York Daily News today, King called for a special counsel to be appointed to investigate:
That is why I called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate these life-threatening leaks.
Attorney General Eric Holder cannot seriously be trusted to pursue crimes that may implicate senior officials in the administration. On Friday, he announced that two U.S. attorneys were selected to lead an investigation into the leaks. It is vital that this investigation be thorough and independent of Justice Department control.
While the administration has rightfully initiated an unprecedented number of leak prosecutions, these are all centered around nonpolitical, career employees who have, for the most part, leaked information having no direct bearing on the president.
The intelligence, law enforcement and military personnel who defend us, and the human sources who take great risks on our behalf, on the assurance that we will do our best to protect their security and identities, deserve no less.
As King notes, the Obama administration has been very serious in cracking down on leaks — but so far, it’s been non-political, mid-level government or military officials who have been prosecuted. In contrast, the latest leakers have clearly been high-level administration officials who have been privy to classified security briefings. And there has been a stark contrast between how the White House has handled these cases. With the latest leaks, the administration only initiated the DOJ investigation after an outcry from lawmakers.
It’s too early to say whether there will be enough pressure on the White House to force a special counsel investigation. In addition to Rep. King, Sen. John McCain, Sen. John Cornyn, and Sen. Roy Blunt have also called for one. And while some Democrats like Sen. Dianne Feinstein have stopped short of calling for it, they haven’t ruled it out.