Former Senate intel committee staffer indicted

Former Senate intel committee staffer indicted

It says the Federal Bureau of Investigation had asked Watkins about a previous relationship with the Senate Intelligence Committee's former director of security, James A. Wolfe, but Watkins did not answer their questions.

James Wolfe, 58, was indicted on three counts of making false statements about his contacts with three reporters. He worked for about 30 years as the director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The indictment read that Wolfe denied he was a source for multiple articles containing contained classified information provided by the executive branch to the committee. He is to appear in court again on Tuesday in Washington.

The seized material does not include the contents of Watkins' emails, but does include customer records from Verizon and Google covering two email accounts and a phone she used, the newspaper reported. And then late a year ago, he said that the Justice Department had 27 leak investigations underway, which was roughly triple the number of the Obama administration. The indictment [PDF] shows Wolfe was in regular contact with four unnamed reporters and the classified info leaked apparently related to the investigation of Carter Page. The Times did not learn of the letter from the department until Thursday. In a statement to the newspaper, her personal lawyer, Mark MacDougall, called it "disconcerting" that the Justice Department had obtained a journalist's telephone records.

The Trump administration's probe into a journalist's personal data carries echoes of the DOJ's seizure of similar records under President Barack Obama.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr and the top Democrat on the committee, Sen. The indictment says that Wolfe originally denied knowing Watkins at all.

Wolfe, of Ellicott City, Md., did not answer questions from reporters.

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According to a Justice Department official, their records were not targeted as part of the investigation. The relationship reportedly occurred when Watkins worked for BuzzFeed. If you use encrypted methods to talk to the press (or with sources), make sure you know how they actually work.

The Obama administration had its own repeated tangles with journalists, including secretly subpoenaing phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors during a 2012 leak investigation into a story about a bomb plot. Mark Warner, said in a joint statement that they were troubled by the charges. While the info obtained may have been necessary to prove Wolfe lied to investigators, it does seem like a serious breach first amendment boundaries for nothing but vanilla "lied to the feds" charges.

Andrew Kaczynski, a CNN reporter, agreed: "The Trump administration actions here - besides showing their disregard for press freedom - has had the effect of launching some disgustingly sexist harassment of a reporter". Prosecutors also say that he provided information to reporters - has to say that he hasn't been charged with disclosing classified information.

New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said in a statement, "Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and we believe that communications between journalists and their sources demand protection".

While working for McClatchy, Watkins was part of a Pulitzer-finalist team for reporting on the CIA's spying on Senate Intelligence Committee computers. Turns out Wolfe had dated Watkins for three years and they had a history of private communications.

According to Justice Department rules for getting information from, or records of, members of the news media, "the approach in every instance must be to strike the proper balance among several vital interests: Protecting national security, ensuring public safety, promoting effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice, and safeguarding the essential role of the free press in fostering government accountability and an open society".

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.

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