US Senate aide charged over leaking stories to reporters

DOJ investigating ex Senate Intel staffer for leaking information

Greg Nash

The New York Times reported Thursday that one of its reporters, Ali Watkins, had years of phone and email records seized as part of the leak investigation.

Wolfe was the director of security for the Senate committee for 29 years, working for both Republicans and Democrats. He was responsible for receiving, maintaining all classified information from the Executive Office to the committee.

During a press conference previous year, Sessions said the Justice Department was "reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas", asserting that reporters' abilities to disclose information had to be weighed against national security concerns.

Wolfe, 58, of Ellicott City, Maryland, was expected to appear in U.S. District Court Friday afternoon in Maryland's Northern Division in Baltimore.

NYT said yesterday, it learnt of a February letter informing Watkins that her records had been obtained, adding that those records covered a period before she started working for NYT late a year ago.

The information given to reporters described in the indictment appears to relate to the committee's interest in Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump presidential campaign who traveled to Russian Federation in 2016, including the news that he had been served with a subpoena by the committee.

Wolfe had extensive contact with reporters about "MALE-1", who was reportedly identified as Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser. She did not answer their questions.

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In his position, Wolfe had access to secret and top-secret information. That same month, F.B.I. agents asked Mr. Wolfe about an article written by Ms. Watkins.

According to a Justice Department official, their records were not targeted as part of the investigation. "This will in no way interfere with our ongoing investigation, and the Committee remains committed to carrying out our important work on behalf of the American people". He's scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court on Friday afternoon. He is charged with with lying repeatedly to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with reporters. He left the organization in December and formally retired in May, reported the New York Times.

Prosecutors say Wolfe eventually admitted to being in a personal relationship with that reporter, dating back to 2014. He further indicated that he had not had a personal relationship with any of the journalists. He allegedly told investigators that he did not have contact with any reporter, when in fact he had repeated contact with 3 reporters. On Oct. 17, "Reporter #3" published an article reporting on the subpoena. I always tried to give you as much Information (sic) that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else.

"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.

The prosecution comes amid a Trump administration crackdown on leaks of classified information.

"Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and communications between journalists and their sources demand protection", Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said.

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