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DOJ Indicts Former Senate Aide for Allegedly Lying to FBI About Media Leaks

DOJ Indicts Former Senate Aide for Allegedly Lying to FBI About Media Leaks

Had a romantic relationship with one of the reporters.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) indicted James Wolfe, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s former security director, for allegedly lying to the FBI about possible leaks to three reporters.

The FBI investigated how New York Times reporter Ali Watkins “learned that Russian spies in 2013 had tried to recruit Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy adviser” after she published an article about it at BuzzFeed.

Turns out, Watkins and Wolfe had a relationship for three years.

Wolfe’s job included “safeguarding classified and other sensitive information shared with lawmakers.” He retired in May after he stopped performing his duties in December.

The DOJ told Watkins in February that officials grabbed “years of customer records and subscriber information from telecommunications companies, including Google and Verizon, for two email accounts and a phone number of hers.” However, they did not retrieve the contents of said communications.

These communications happened before she joined The New York Times in December, but covers her time at BuzzFeed and Politico.

Wolfe denied knowing Watkins when the FBI asked him about her, but once they presented a picture of the two of them to him, he confessed. From Fox News:

Wolfe allegedly admitted to FBI agents in 2017 that he lied about his relationship with a reporter identified in court papers as “REPORTER #2.” He admitted the relationship after he was shown photos of the two of them together, according to the indictment.

Wolfe was allegedly in contact with “REPORTER #2” and they exchanged tens of thousands of electronic communications and often daily phone calls. He would also meet at the reporter’s apartment, court papers alleged.

Wolfe had extensive contact with reporters about “MALE-1,” who was reportedly identified as Carter Page, a Trump campaign adviser.

Wolfe received classified information about “MALE-1” on the same day he exchanged 82 text messages with “REPORTER #2,” according to the indictment. A few weeks later, “REPORTER #2” published an online article that revealed the identity of “MALE-1.”

On April 3, 2017, Watkins’ byline appeared on a BuzzFeed article that revealed that Page had met with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013.

Wolfe allegedly called “REPORTER #2” nearly a half-hour after the story went live and had a phone conversation for about seven minutes.

In December 2017, Wolfe allegedly messaged “REPORTER #2.”

“I’ve watched your career take off even before you ever had a career in journalism. … 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. … I always enjoyed the way that you would pursue a story,like nobody else was doing in my hal1way (sic). I felt like I was part of your excitement and was always very supportive of your career and the tenacity that you exhibited to chase down a good story,” the message read, according to the indictment.

The indictment says that Wolfe insists he did not provide anyone with “classified information or news leads.” The charges do not include “disclosing classified information.”

On Wednesday, the Senate passed a resolution unanimously on the floor to provide the DOJ with documents concerning this investigation. A source said that the Senate did not know the DOJ seized communications from Watkins at the time. From CNN:

“While the charges do not appear to include anything related to the mishandling of classified information, the Committee takes this matter extremely seriously. We were made aware of the investigation late last year, and have fully cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice since then,” they said.

“This news is disappointing, as the former staffer in question served on the Committee for more than three decades, and in the Armed Forces with distinction. However, we trust the justice system to act appropriately and ensure due process as this case unfolds. 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.”

Seizing a journalist’s records is not an easy task due to the First Amendment. After this happened under President Barack Obama, the DOJ changed its rules. From The New York Times:

Under Justice Department regulations, investigators must clear additional hurdles before they can seek business records that could reveal a reporter’s confidential sources, such as phone and email records. In particular, the rules require the government to have “made all reasonable attempts to obtain the information from alternative, non-media sources” before investigators may target a reporter’s information.

In addition, the rules generally require the Justice Department to notify reporters first to allow them to negotiate over the scope of their demand for information and potentially challenge it in court. The rules permit the attorney general to make an exception to that practice if he “determines that, for compelling reasons, such negotiations would pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation, risk grave harm to national security, or present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm.”

Top Justice Department officials must sign off on any attempt to gain access to a journalist’s communications records.

The law does not protect “[I]nformation gathered by reporters.” We do not know if “investigators exhausted all of their avenues of information before confiscating” Watkins’ information, but as far as we know, no one told Watkins beforehand.

From The New York Times:

“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,” Mark MacDougall, an attorney for Ms. Watkins, told the New York Times. “Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges.”

A person familiar with the matter said Ms. Watkins disclosed the relationship when she joined the New York Times. A spokeswoman for the New York Times said the seizure of a reporter’s records undermines media freedom.

“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and we believe that communications between journalists and their sources demand protection,” said Eileen Murphy, senior vice president for corporate communications at the paper. “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.”

Ben Smith, the editor in chief for BuzzFeed, said, “We’re 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.”

[Featured image via Fox News]


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Proof that NYT reporters are prostitutes, literally in bed with the deep state.

    YellowGrifterInChief in reply to rotten. | June 8, 2018 at 3:24 pm

    Its just the FBI and we all know they lie all the time. Besides it is just a ‘process crime’. Everyone on this site knows they don’t count. After all most of the charges and convictions in the Mueller investigation involve ‘process crimes’. I read that right here.

      Ali, is that you?

      There’s process crime and then there’s process crime.

      It’s quite believable that when asked, you might forget having once met a particular (Russian?) individual at a diplomatic dinner party that included hundreds of guests. Especially if you never discussed with that stranger the supposed subject of the investigation. Indicting for that feels like a perjury trap regardless of which admin you work for.

      It’s quite unbelievable that when asked, you “forget” meeting and corresponding repeatedly one-on-one with an individual. Especially when the correspondance documents that talked about info you weren’t supposed to. Having had sex with the individual is no valid shield against perjury charges – based on some “every one lies about sex” statute that doesn’t exist. Otherwise, criminals in actual conspiracies (that exist Outside the fevered imaginations of never-Trumpers) would be sexing it up all the time on the advice of their lawyers,

    Marco100 in reply to rotten. | June 9, 2018 at 9:53 am

    DAYUMMMMMMM….that MUST have been some FINE ASS PUSSAY!!!!

I don’t understand.
Why charge him for lying about the leaks, and not for actually disclosing the information?
(I assume the actual leak is a more serious charge)

    forksdad in reply to Exiliado. | June 8, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Probably easier to prove they have photos of them together.

    Immolate in reply to Exiliado. | June 8, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    IANAL but charging him with the lies doesn’t preclude charging him for the larger crime, and they may not be ready to secure an indictment on the leaking yet. But for Wolfe and Watkins, it just got real, and there is no telling what might break lose, assuming it hasn’t already.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Immolate. | June 8, 2018 at 1:42 pm

      Charge him and get him to turn on her. Send the message to the media that they aren’t immune to prosecution for being irresponsible with information that they aren’t supposed to have access to via leaks.

    oldgoat36 in reply to Exiliado. | June 8, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    I think this could be the first charge, and may be used to get more information about what was given for some leniency in the punishment. This effectively ends his career anyway, so they have big leverage on him from this charge alone.

    snopercod in reply to Exiliado. | June 8, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Haven’t you heard? Mishandling classified information is no longer a crime. Just ask Hillary or Sandy Berger.

    Marco100 in reply to Exiliado. | June 9, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Because he could claim he didn’t give her the information–that she maybe overheard him talking on the phone; or she secretly looked at his phone or in his paperwork and he wasn’t aware of it. (Not very likely, but still…) Ali Watkins has a comic of Lois Lane on her Twitter page–she patterns herself after the classic spunky snoopy reporter–as opposed to Mata Hari, the spy/whore who is actually probably a more apt role model.

Just think, Linda Loveless would have been a great reporter.

“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and we believe that communications between journalists and their sources demand protection,” said Eileen Murphy, senior vice president for corporate communications at the (NYT) paper.”

Good grief. Listen to the elitist crap burped up by this corporate spin doctor.

The 1st Amendment is not an invisibilty cloak to obscure criminality – whether government or private.

No wonder Klavan says the NY Times is a former newspaper.

    Communications between journalists and their sources. Is that what the kids are calling it nowadays?

    …And that, by far, is the most dignified way I can put it. Sleeping with your sources and then ranting about journalistic ethics is a bit much.

    Yet they were gleeful over Cohen having all his records taken away revoking any client – attorney privilege, and they didn’t have any problem with that cornerstone of our democracy.

    I respect freedom of the press, but to a point, there is such thing as national security, and even dangers to ongoing investigations which would be harmed by some reports coming out. If a reporter gets classified information they are not cleared to have, isn’t that a crime for both the leaker and the person who receives the information, as they are then in possession of classified documents.

      moonmoth in reply to oldgoat36. | June 8, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      Yet they were gleeful over Cohen having all his records taken away revoking any client – attorney privilege, [etc.]
      Thanks for noting that. I was about to say the same thing.

    stevewhitemd in reply to locomotivebreath1901. | June 8, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    …we believe that communications between journalists and their sources demand protection…

    Does that include pillow talk?

Mueller and Clapper got rid of Gen. David Patraeus for something similar.

I’m reluctant to chase this rabbit down the hole. There will be lots of commotion, Sturm und Drang, but at the end of the day we all know not a damn thing will happen to this guy.

This is ANOTHER low-hanging fruit indictment for “lying to FBI investigators.

This charge is going to come back and bite the feds in the butt, one day. Federal courts have ruled over and over, in state prosecutions for lying and obstruction, that a suspect can not be charged with lying to investigators, in a criminal case, because this amounts to coerced or forced confession and is a violation of the 5th Amendment. about the only statute still being used, which makes lying to an investigator by a suspect in a crime a crime, is 18 USC 1001. The reason that the feds are using this statute is because they can not prove that he leaked classified material. The biggest problem with this is that if this charge results in the development of further evidence that Wolfe disseminated classified information without proper authorization, it might easily all be washed away if the lying charge is found to be unconstitutional.

The key to this all is: “How will the Justice department structure their approach to this leaky sack of (censored) to maximize the amount of information they get out of him in order to hammer the reporters who passed along the secrets?”

Hides need nailed to the wall. Lots of hides.

The best Schadenfreude will (of course) come out of a careful review of these reporters’ numerous tweets and other communications where they blame the Trump administration for leaks that they were receiving from this guy. Oh, and jail time would be nice.

    YellowGrifterInChief in reply to georgfelis. | June 8, 2018 at 3:25 pm

    Yes, everything must be done to protect Trumps lies from being exposed.

      You do realize that the vast majority of his leaking career occurred during the reign of a certain other president, right?

      Yellow: “everything must be done to protect Trumps lies from being exposed.”

      No need. 18 months and the best your crack team can dig up is a lie about an affair in 2006 12 years ago?

      BTW, have *you* ever cheated on your spouse? Tell the truth and your life will be ruined, lie and the Federal Government will prosecute you and ruin your life.

Nothing new. The NY Times has had wh0res as reporters since Walter Duranty, likely earlier.

How about Maureen Dowd? She seems like one of them.

I will never forgive the NYT for betraying the country by exposing that we were tracking Al Qaeda agents by monitoring credit card use.

regulus arcturus | June 9, 2018 at 1:07 am

To be clear: The NY Times reporter who said there is no such thing as the Deep State was sleeping with and getting classified documents from the Director of Senate Intel Security

If/Then Conditional Probability

“Conditional Probability – The probability that event B will occur given the knowledge that an event A has already occurred.”

IF your bartender has a criminal record for embellizing
THEN the probability he is skimming from the register is high.

IF the CIA, FBI and MSM are corrupt and conspirators
THEN the probability that the MSM is just a Deep State disinformation campaign run by our intelligence agencies against us is…?

It looks like Brother Wolfe was forced into having sexual relations with this reporter or she would turn him in for leaking. Time for #BROTHERStoo to leap into action! Protest at your local phone company or something. Women have kept us subjugated long enough! Rise up brothers and be proud! we are people too!

JusticeDelivered | June 9, 2018 at 5:03 pm

This is just another woman screwing her to the top. Buzzfeed, the Hill, NYT, next NBC?

In a decade or two she will claim to be a victim, just like show biz, where there is a long history of women advancing their careers in the same way. Years later, screwing them one final time, followed with a lawsuit, making them very expensive hookers.