Former Trump admin official pleads guilty to leaking national defense secrets

Since President Donald Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, his administration has repeatedly been the target of leaks that seek to undermine his political agenda. But one former Trump administration official just learned that those leaks can carry serious consequences.

According to The Washington Times, former counterterrorism analyst Henry Kyle Frese pleaded guilty on Thursday to “the willful transmission of Top Secret national defense information” after he was caught leaking national defense secrets to two journalists, including one who he was allegedly dating.

The 31-year-old is set to be sentenced in June. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison.

Leaks to the press

According to the Times, Frese had contact with two journalists affiliated with NBC News; one who worked for NBC directly, and another who worked for CNBC.

The CNBC reporter, Amanda Macias, was reportedly dating Frese at the time. They shared a residence and appeared on each other’s social media profiles, the Times reported.

Although Macias was not named in the indictment, tweets she posted were cited in court filings, as were tweets from NBC reporter Courtney Kube. Neither Macias nor Kube have been charged with a crime, however.

Prior to his arrest, Frese worked at the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to a press release from the Department of Justice (DOJ). His position gave him access to classified data, including intelligence on Chinese weapons technology.

Prosecutors said that in the spring of 2018, Frese leaked this information out, first to Macias and then to Kube. Both subsequently wrote articles on the subject.

This is criminal

G. Zachary Terwilliger, who serves as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, had harsh words for the defendant, an Arlington, Virginia resident.

“Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with Top Secret information related to the national defense of our country,” Terwilliger said in a statement released by the DOJ. “Frese allegedly violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and is charged with engaging in dastardly and felonious conduct at the expense of our country.”

Terwilliger went on to say Frese’s “indictment should serve as a clear reminder to all of those similarly entrusted with National Defense information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic, it is criminal.”

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers also slammed Frese for releasing “sensitive national security information for personal gain.”

“The government takes these breaches seriously,” Demers added, “and will use all the resources at our disposal to apprehend and prosecute those who jeopardize the safety of this country and its citizens.”

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