Attorney General Jeff Sessions floated the idea of putting the whole National Security Council through lie detector tests to scope out who leaked information about President Donald Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders, Axios reported on Sunday.
Sources familiar with the matter told the news website that Sessions reportedly wants to administer a “one-time, one-issue” polygraph test to every one of the over 100 members of the NSC to narrow down possible suspects.
The attorney general is reportedly zeroing in on the leaked information about Trump’s phone call with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull because only a small circle of people would have had access to transcripts of the phone calls.
During his contentious conversation with the Mexican leader, Trump asked him to stop publicly saying that Mexico would not pay for the border wall Trump wants to build across the US’ southern border. The wall, as well as Trump’s promise that Mexico would finance it, was a core pillar of his campaign.
“You cannot say that to the press,” Trump said in the call, adding that the funding “will work out in the formula somehow” and “will come out in the wash, and that is OK.”
When he spoke to Australian prime minister and staunch US ally Malcolm Turnbull, Trump grew heated over the prospect of accepting 1,250 refugees housed by Australia, a deal that was agreed to by former President Barack Obama. Trump told Turnbull their conversation was “the most unpleasant call all day.”
“Putin was a pleasant call,” Trump said later in the conversation. “This is ridiculous.”
The transcripts of the phone calls were published by The Washington Post in early August.
Sessions’ alleged proposal about administering lie detector tests indicates that he’s taking the issue of leaking seriously, and he announced a new initiative to that effect in August. During a widely-publicized press conference, Sessions told reporters that the Department of Justice was reviewing its policies on subpoenaing reporters in investigations of information leaks, a move that could compel journalists to break agreements to conceal a source’s identity or face legal consequences.
Though polygraph tests have been frequently used in the past, there is little evidence to suggest that their results are consistent and reliable.
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