Justice Department Seized New York Times Reporter's Phone, Email Records

DOJ investigating ex Senate Intel staffer for leaking information

Greg Nash

Brad Dayspring, a Politico spokesman, said in a statement: "Ms. Watkins' primary beat during her short time at POLITICO was not the Senate Intelligence Committee, which we had two reporters covering, but national security and law enforcement, including topics relating to China, global spy games, and Cuba". It appears one focus of the FBI's probe was a BuzzFeed article published in April 2017 in which she reported that Russian spies tried to recruit former Trump adviser Carter Page in 2013.

He also is accused of lying about giving two reporters non-public information about committee business.

The indictment charges Wolfe with making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and details how Wolfe passed classified information, including presumably information related to one-time Trump campaign aide Carter Page, to a series of media outlets, confirming long-standing suspicions of the career intelligence community's complicity in leaks.

Wolfe was arrested and indicted on charges of lying to the FBI on Thursday as part of that investigation.

Fox News media analyst Howard Kurtz said Friday that the arrest of a veteran Senate Intelligence Committee staffer and the seizure of a New York Times reporter's records will have a "chilling effect" on journalists.

The indictment details Wolfe's alleged contact with three reporters, whose identifies were not immediately revealed.

Wolfe was the security director at the SSCI for three decades from 1987 to 2017 and reportedly managed all classified information, from the Executive Office to the panel.

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Burr and Warner said they were made aware of the investigation late previous year and have fully cooperated with the FBI and Justice Department.

Earlier Thursday, the New York Times revealed that federal investigators had seized years' worth of email and phone records relating to one of its reporters, Ali Watkins.

Wolfe allegedly was in contact with the reporter and exchanged tens of thousands of electronic communications and often daily phone calls, according to the indictment.

In a statement Thursday night, Watkins' attorney, Mark MacDougall, said: "It's always disconcerting when a journalist's telephone records are obtained by the Justice Department - through a grand jury subpoena or other legal process".

Buzzfeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith said on Twitter that the online publication is "deeply troubled by what looks like a case of law enforcement interfering with a reporter's constitutional right to gather information about her own government".

"The Attorney General has stated that investigations and prosecutions of unauthorized disclosure of controlled information are a priority of the Department of Justice".

He also denied being a source for stories, adding that he did not know who was leaking classified information to the press. "The allegations in this indictment are doubly troubling as the false statements concern the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and confidential information", Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement.

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