In his pre-vacation press conference yesterday, President Obama shocked his aides by revealing the existence of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi attack, a revelation which appears to be a violation of federal law.
Not that actually following laws is a big concern for this administration in the first place, but certainly worth noting.
Via ABC News:
President Obama surprised aides when he revealed the existence of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi, Libya, attack today, leaving some wondering if he crossed a legal line.
At a press conference at the White House, President Obama was asked whether justice would come to those responsible for the terrorist attack nearly a year ago in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
“[W]e have informed, I think, the public that there’s a sealed indictment,” the president responded. “It’s sealed for a reason. But we are intent on capturing those who carried out this attack, and we’re going to stay on it until we get them.”
That marked the only official confirmation so far of a sealed indictment in the Benghazi case. For days, officials across the law enforcement and intelligence communities have refused to publicly confirm reports of a sealed indictment.
After all, according to federal law, “no person may disclose [a sealed] indictment’s existence,” and a “knowing violation … may be punished as a contempt of court.” Contempt of court carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail.
A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, called the president’s disclosure “crazy.”
“Doesn’t the law apply to the president too?” the official asked, and then jokingly added, “I guess he could pardon himself.”
A former prosecutor for the Justice Department says that the President can’t technically violate the law due to his position. Essentially anything he says is authorized by the President himself, and therefore no longer a leak.
He adds however, that “an argument could be made that a sealed matter can only be unsealed by a court.”