Senate Intel Committee veteran arrested for lying to Federal Bureau of Investigation

11 June, 2018, 01:03 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Ex-Senate intel aide charged after DOJ seizes reporter's records

As part of its investigation, federal law enforcement officials secretly seized a New York Times reporter's phone and email records going back several years.

The Justice Department indicted and arrested a longtime staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee for lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with reporters.

What is known today is that in December 2013, the Temple University intern had begun a romantic relationship with James A. Wolfe, a man 30 years her senior.

Sessions' remarks at the time earned him some criticism from press-freedom advocates who had been sounding alarms over the Trump administration's public hostilities toward reporters and news organizations.

Now, the reporters aren't identified by name in the indictment. The identities of three other reporters referred to anonymously in the indictment, and with whom Wolfe is alleged to have had contact, were not clear. President Obama had done similar things, but it was the first example of it happening under President Trump.

One of the most extreme attacks on press freedom under Obama was when DOJ obtained the phone records of various journalists to find their sources.

A prosecutor informed Watkins in a February 13 letter that the Justice Department had obtained records and subscriber information from communications companies, including Google and Verizon, pertaining to two email accounts and a phone number belonging to her, according to the Times, which learned of the letter on Thursday.

Sessions' remarks threatened a break with the Obama Justice Department policy, which asserted that reporters would not be targeted. Her name is Ali Watkins. The reporter is Ali Watkins, who now works for The New York Times. Wolfe also did not respond to requests for comments.

Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina and Mark Warner of Virginia, the chairman and vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that "We are troubled to hear of the charges filed against a former member of the committee staff". The Intelligence Committee has "fully cooperated" with investigators since learning about the case "late a year ago", they said.

Page has denied any involvement in possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

She says he was not a source while she was at the Times or other places she has worked: "Mr. Wolfe was not a source of information for Ms. Watkins during their relationship, she said, adding that she told editors at Buzzfeed News and Politico about it and continued to cover national security, including the committee's work".

A spokesperson for the intelligence panel confirmed Wolfe's charges were dropped in 2004 and said his security clearance was reissued in 2008.

The Times said it learned of the Justice Department's seizure on Thursday.

"Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges", he said, according to the AP.

As the security director of the Senate Committee handling the Russian Federation probe for the past 18 months, Wolfe was the person in charge of enforcing security measures during the proceedings, making the charges even more disturbing. Wolfe was not accused of illegally disclosing national security secrets. The indictment says that Wolfe originally denied knowing Watkins at all.

According to investigators Wolfe's emails and phone data proved that the pair exchanged "tens of thousands of electronic communications". And about 20 minutes after the article posted, the two had a cellphone call that lasted seven minutes. The FBI then showed him a picture of the two of them together.

Based on the information in the indictment, REPORTER #2 is Watkins.

The tactics used by the FBI in the Wolfe investigation, which included collecting communications between Wolfe and specific journalists, drew criticism from media and civil liberties groups.

The arrest comes amid a crackdown on intelligence leaking by the Trump administration. Prosecutors said Wolfe communicated with a fourth reporter using his Senate email account from 2015 to 2017. One particular text message sent by Wolfe read: "I've watched your career take off even before you ever had a career in journalism..." If he violates those conditions, Coulson said Wolfe could face additional prison time.


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