David Axelrod, a top adviser to President Obama, hit back forcefully at allegations that the White House deliberately leaked sensitive national security information.
Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two prosecutors to investigate the sources behind a pair of front page New York Times articles which quoted dozens of current and former Obama administration officials and revealed intricate details about the White House's "kill list" and its cyberattacks on Iran.
Congressional Republicans have accused the White House of leaking the information to bolster Obama's political standing on national security issues.
On Friday, Obama said that such an idea was "offensive" to him, and pledged that the source of the leaks would be rooted out.
On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos pointed out to Axelrod that both Times stories are sourced at an apparently high level within the administration.
"In both cases, they quote members of the president's national security team who were in the room," Stephanopoulos said. "So somebody who was in the room with the president was giving out some of this information or at least discussing classified information."
"I think the authors of all of this work have said that the White House was not the source of this information," Axelrod replied. "I can't say that there weren't leaks. There were obvious leaks, but they weren't from the White House."
He said that "life or death decisions" weigh "heavily" on Obama.
"The last thing that he would countenance or anybody around him would countenance are leaks that would jeopardize the security of Americans on these secret missions, and the success of those missions."
"So you're confident this investigation's not going to show White House involvement?" Stephanopoulos said.
"Yes," Axelrod said. He touted the Obama administration's unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers and reporters over leaks as proof that the White House meant business.
"We have come under attack because we have been tougher on leaks than any administration in recent history, and we have been criticized for that," Axelrod said.
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