Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Thursday asked Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE to weigh in on whether the Department of Justice believes WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has broken any laws and if his department is pursuing prosecution.
Sasse, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on oversight, sent a letter to Sessions after White House press secretary Sean Spicer earlier in the day deferred questions about the WikiLeaks head to the attorney general.
"Does the Department of Justice believe Julian Assange has broken the law and is the Department aggressively pursuing his detention and prosecution?" Sasse asked Sessions.
"Frankly, it is amazing that I even have to ask this question of the Administration in light of the Intelligence Community’s formal assessment that Mr. Assange’s website is a known outlet for foreign propaganda and in light of Mr. Assange’s history of recklessly endangering the lives of Americans through his illegal disclosures," Sasse continued.
"Nevertheless, because Mr. Spicer referred this matter to DOJ, I am now asking you."
Sasse has been seen as a hawk on Russia throughout the hacking scandal surrounding the 2016 election, where the intelligence community implicated WikiLeaks as a propaganda outlet being used by Moscow in a hacking campaign before the election.
WikiLeaks is now irking many lawmakers and other government officials for its recent publication of nearly a gigabyte of classified information from a secure CIA server.
The trove of documents published this week purportedly detail CIA hacking programs, including descriptions of hacking tools, engineering notes, internal communications and other items.
Sasse issued a statement earlier on Thursday saying that the WikiLeaks founder should "spend the rest of his life wearing an orange jumpsuit" following the document dump.
"He’s an enemy of the American people and an ally to Vladimir Putin,” Sasse said of Assange.
The FBI and CIA are reportedly collaborating on an investigation of the latest leaks. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) called for a congressional investigation immediately after the documents were released.