Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday said a leak revealing that the first indictments in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election could itself be a crime.
“First off, it’s supposed to be kept secret,” the New Jersey governor and former federal prosecutor said on ABC’s “This Week.” “There are very strict criminal laws about disclosing grand jury information. Now, depending on who disclosed this to CNN, it could be a crime.”
Asked if a member of Mueller’s team disclosed the impending indictment to CNN, which reported on Friday that the first charges would be filed as soon as Monday, Christie said he hoped not.
“Because, 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,’” he said on ABC. “Because we have to have the public have confidence in the fact that the grand jury process is secret and as a result fair.”
Christie also dismissed a suggestion that President Trump might issue preemptive pardons against administration officials or former presidential campaign associates targeted by Mueller.
“I’ve never seen the president talk about that,” he said. “If anybody is sitting around and saying I don’t have to worry about anything because the president will ultimately pardon me, they should talk to ‘Scotter’ Libby, they should talk to others who thought they were getting a pardon – all the people involved in Watergate and the pardons they thought they’d get from President Nixon. They’re still waiting.”
Libby, the former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was convicted of lying to a grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA operative’s identity in 2007.
He was sentenced to 30 months in prison, but former President Bush commuted the penalty.
“If you’re leaking stuff out of a grand jury, which happens, you shouldn’t be doing that,” Christie said.
“Again, we don’t know who leaked it to CNN. It would be a crime if prosecutors or agents leaked it.