June 18, 2018

Ex-Senate Intelligence Security Chief Charged in FBI Leak Probe

08 June 2018, 09:42 | Taylor George

Greg Nash

DOJ investigating ex Senate Intel staffer for leaking information

New York Times reporter Ali Watkins had her phone and email records seized as part of a Justice Department investigation into leaks, the paper revealed Thursday night.

Under Justice Department regulations, prosecutors are required to exhaust "all reasonable steps" to obtain information about a leaker from other non-journalistic sources before seeking a reporter's private communications, which could reveal her confidential sources.

Former Senate Intelligence Committee security director James Wolfe has been indicted on three counts of making false statements about his contacts with three reporters.

Watkins, who met Wolfe in 2013 when she was a college intern and freelance reporter in Washington, D.C., wrote dozens of articles about the intelligence committee, the indictment said.

The prosecution follows intense pressure from President Trump for the Justice Department to crack down on leaks to the media.

In his position, Wolfe had access to secret and top-secret information.

The newspaper reports, "Shortly before she began working at The Times, Ms. Watkins was approached by the F.B.I. agents, who asserted that Mr. Wolfe had helped her with articles while they were dating".

The document said that in the same month, Wolfe reached out to a third reporter to serve as an unnamed source. He's also accused of lying about his relationship with Watkins when Federal Bureau of Investigation agents asked him about the sources for an article she wrote.

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Richard Burr (R-NC) said: "We are troubled to hear of the charges filed against a former member of the Committee staff". The Justice Department's investigative rules generally require giving a reporter the chance to contest the demand for records and to narrow the scope of the government's inquiry.

A longtime staffer of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee was arrested on Thursday on charges of lying to FBI agents investigating the illegal disclosure of classified information, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said.

"I've watched your career take off even before you ever had a career in journalism".

In the indictment, it's indicated that after Wolfe handled classified documents related to the "Russia probe", he exchanged 82 text messages with a reporter the same evening.

Page reacted to the news of Wolfe's indictment on Twitter, writing that it was now "more understandable" how NBC staffers always knew he'd be showing up for appearances before the Senate committee. "We were made aware of the investigation late past year, and have fully cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice since then".

Katie Pavlich agreed on "America's Newsroom" that the government has every right to prosecute people for leaking classified information, but at the same time reporters have a "valid reason to be concerned" about how the government goes about seizing reporters' electronic information.

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