Ex-Senate Intelligence Security Chief Charged in FBI Leak Probe

  • Ex-Senate Intelligence Security Chief Charged in FBI Leak Probe

Ex-Senate Intelligence Security Chief Charged in FBI Leak Probe

The president called the former Senate aide, James A. Wolfe, "a very important leaker".

The US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, also weighed in, saying she hopes the charges against Wolfe "will be a warning to those who might lie to law enforcement to the detriment of the United States".

Earlier on Thursday, the New York Times reported that Wolfe's case involved "an investigation of classified information leaks where prosecutors also secretly seized years' worth of a New York Times reporter's phone and email records".

"I'm a big, big believer in the freedom of the press", Mr. Trump said Friday at the White House "But I'm also a believer that you can not leak classified information. Has to remain classified". Wolfe's case is the first known instance of the Justice Department seizing a reporter's data under the Trump administration. "We need to figure that out", he said.

Prosecutors said the case underscored the importance of protecting secrets and reinforced that it's unacceptable to try to mislead the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Wolfe, a former Army intelligence analyst, stopped performing committee work in December and retired in May.

The indictment also describes an incident in which Wolfe alerted another reporter in October 2017 that he had served Page with a subpoena to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Watkins claims that Wolfe was not a source of classified information during their relationship.

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

Matthew Miller, the former chief spokesman for the Department of Justice under attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who had dramatically increased the number of leak investigations over prior administrations, said the department "went too far", in leak investigations, but that Holder then "put safeguards in place to prevent this from happening, except in the most exceptional cases". "This decision by the Justice Department will endanger reporters' ability to promise confidentiality to their sources and, ultimately, undermine the ability of a free press to shine a much-needed light on government actions".

"That should be a grave concern to anyone who cares about an informed citizenry", she concluded.

A congressional source said the Senate panel was not aware that the Justice Department had seized a reporter's records when it passed a resolution Wednesday to provide DOJ with documents tied to the investigation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been responsive. Watkins' reporting for the Times is not part of the leak investigation.

If the manner by which the Justice Department pursued these records sounds familiar, it should: Something similar happened in 2013 when the Justice Department collected two months of phone records from Associated Press reporters to try to track down the source of a leak about a Central Intelligence Agency operation in Yemen. But the act is written so broadly that, in theory, it could apply to the news media.

In other contexts, there's been a tendency for people in the media to scream outrage over behavior by the Trump administration that was downplayed when Obama did the same thing.

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".

President Donald Trump on Friday applauded the charges.