New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said on Sunday that the leak to CNN that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has led to a federal indictment would be a crime if it was leaked by investigators or the prosecutor.
CNN reported Friday that the first charges were filed in Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Christie, a former prosecutor, warned that the officials who leaked the information to CNN most likely violated U.S. laws by doing so.
“First off, it’s supposed to be kept secret,” Christie said Sunday on ABC News’ “This Week.” “Because we have to have the public have confidence in the fact that the grand jury process is secret and as a result fair.”
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“There are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information. Now, depending on who disclosed this to CNN, it could be a crime,” he continued. “If you’re leaking stuff out of a grand jury, which happens, you shouldn’t be doing that.”
If a member of Mueller’s legal team disclosed the information, the New Jersey governor warned, the official could be prosecuted for doing so.
“Listen, as a prosecutor I can tell you, that was the thing that we emphasized the most with our prosecutors and our agents was, ‘Let me tell you something, we will prosecute you if we find out you leaked this stuff,'” Christie said. “Again, we don’t know who leaked it to CNN. It would be a crime if prosecutors or agents leaked it.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, also complained about the leak of a grand jury indictment when he told “Fox News Sunday” that “the only conversation” he’s had with Mueller about the ongoing Russia probe involved “stressing to him the importance of cutting out the leaks with respect to serious investigations.”
“It is kind of ironic that the people charged with investigating the law and executing the law would violate the law,” Gowdy told host Chris Wallace. “Make no mistake, disclosing grand jury material is a violation of the law. So as a former prosecutor, I’m disappointed that you and I are having the conversation, but that somebody violated their oath of secrecy.”
Christie told “This Week” that he expects the the person who has been charged in Mueller’s Russia probe isn’t a “smaller fish.”
“When you’re going after the smaller fish to get the bigger fish, you usually don’t charge them. That stuff is working behind the scenes because what you want to do is keep that smaller fish … because it helps them to be able to gather more information,” he said. “If everyone knows they’ve been charged, they’re going to be treated like they’re radioactive. No one’s going to go near them. No one’s going to talk to them.”
“So I think that what it appears is going on here is [Mueller’s] approaching this as a normal case with discrete type of charges that may wind up intersecting,” Christie added.