New York Times and CNBC journalist John Harwood called on a White House staffer to illegally leak classified information in a Thursday tweet.
After a White House source leaked transcripts of President Donald Trump's phone calls with the leaders of Mexico and Australia to the Washington Post, Harwood called on the leaker to do the same for Trump's call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Dear Leaker (you know who you are),
please just send me transcript of Putin call. won't bug you for any more. that's only one I need.
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) August 3, 2017
The legality of requests such as Harwood's has long been a matter of debate. The Supreme Court has upheld the right of media outlets to publish unsolicited, illegally obtained information in cases such as Bartnicki v. Vopper.
But it's generally illegal to solicit someone to commit a crime. As NPR put it, "Ample legal precedent suggests a protection for journalists as long as they do not themselves break the law or encourage or direct others to do so."
In 2013, the Obama Justice Department named Fox News reporter James Rosen an unindicted "criminal co-conspirator" on the theory that he solicited the classified information he published. No journalist has ever been prosecuted for solicitation.
Ironically, Harwood was strongly critical of Trump when he appeared to solicit the Russian government to engage in illegal hacking.
Trump, who fondly recalls when America was "great," could literally have been locked up in 1950s for saying what he said about Russia today.
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) July 27, 2016