Justice Dept. Seizes Times Reporter's Email and Phone Records in Leak Investigation

Howard TerryJun 09, 2018

Based on accusations in the Wolfe indictment, it appears this scoop, that Page had been in contact with a Russian intelligence operative back in 2013, was based entirely on classified information Wolfe was privy to as a result of his position and which he allegedly leaked to Watkins. He said he was still getting details on the case.

Wolfe received classified information about "MALE-1" on the same day he exchanged 82 text messages with "REPORTER #2", according to the indictment. Watkins and Wolfe were once in a romantic relationship. One of those leaks involved Carter Page, Trump's former foreign policy adviser, who was issued a subpoena by the committee for testimony. But he maintained that he did not share any classified information or news leads. "But I'm also a believer in classified information".

Federal prosecutors said Thursday that James A. Wolfe, of Ellicott City, Maryland, has been arrested and indicted on three counts of false statements.

On April 3, Watkins, then a reporter for BuzzFeed News, authored a story that revealed that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page had been in contact with at least one Russian spy working undercover in NY in 2013.

Wolfe's apparent communication via texts, emails, calls, and in-person conversations with these journalists contradicts sworn statements he made to the Federal Bureau of Investigation in December denying having contact with reporters.

"Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges", MacDougall added. It wasn't immediately clear if he had a lawyer. Prosecutors said Saucier held a secret security clearance and "knew that the photos depicted classified material and that he was not authorized to take them".

Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement obtained by the Washington Examiner after Wolfe's arrest, "The Attorney General has stated that investigations and prosecutions of unauthorized disclosure of controlled information are a priority of the Department of Justice".

On Friday, Wolfe wore a pair of gray socks and a white button-up shirt, without a belt or tie. He is reportedly accused of sharing non-public information of the Committee's business to members of the press. Neither the reporter nor the person who was subpoenaed is named in the indictment.

As security director for the Senate Intel Committee for almost 30 years, Wolfe had access to classified secret and top secret information, according to the DOJ. A government employee's security clearance can be denied if they have a criminal record of any sort.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said past year that the DOJ was aggressively pursuing around three timx as many leak investigations as were open at the end of Obama's second term - while Obama's DOJ prosecuted more leaks than all previous administrations combined.

News media advocates consider the idea of mining a journalist's records for sources to be an intrusion on First Amendment freedoms, and prosecutors acknowledge it is one of the most delicate steps the Justice Department can take.

Journalists previously raised alarms about the Obama administration's aggressive moves against reporters in leak investigations.

Lauren Easton, director of media relations for the AP, said Friday, "The Associated Press opposes any government overreach that jeopardizes the ability of journalists to freely and safely do their jobs and undermines the vital distinction between the government and the press".

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