Someone in the government committed a serious crime. Indeed, it appears that several people did.
Those individuals had special access to the content of telephone conversations between President Trump's now former National Security Adviser Gen. Michael Flynn (ret.) and Russia's Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak. Those discussions were secretly recorded by American intelligence agencies. The tapes are classified documents.
Whoever conveyed the information contained therein to the Washington Post committed a felony. The Post reporter, David Ignatius, who published the classified material may also be prosecuted, but he should not be.
Prosecuting the Leakers
18 U.S.C. 798 states as follows:
"Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates...to an unauthorized person, or publishes...any classified information obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."
It matters not that the leakers intended to reveal a deception by Flynn. The law's intent clause refers only to the intent to reveal. Any underlying motivation to serve the public good by disclosing a lie or misrepresentation is of no legal consequence under the statute.
Ignatius describes the person who first told him of Flynn's recorded discussions with Kislyak as "a senior U.S. government official." That person committed the crime stated above.
But we discovered that others were also engaged in the same criminal activity when the reporter revealed, in a subsequent story, that the conversations were corroborated by "nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the ...