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08 June 2018, 08:30 | Devin Moran
Justice Department investigators seized NY Times reporter’s phone and email records in search for leaks: report
One of those scoops was said to be Watkins' story on April 3, 2017, for Buzzfeed News that revealed the FBI was investigating former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page because a Russian spy attempted to recruit him in 2013.
Watkins reportedly had a relationship with Wolfe but claims he was not a source of information. According to the indictment, the former U.S. Senate staffer also lied about giving two journalists classified information.
The FBIsaid Wolfe provided classified information about the Page investigation to Watkins and leaked information to three other reporters on different topics related to the intelligence committee.
Watkins had a relationship with James A. Wolfe, the Senate Intelligence Committee's retired director of security.
Speaking on the matter of Wolfe's arrest and indictment Thursday night, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said, "Those entrusted with sensitive information must discharge their duties with honesty and integrity, and that includes telling the truth to law enforcement".
Sessions' remarks at the time earned him some criticism from press-freedom advocates who had been sounding alarms over the Trump administration's public hostilities toward reporters and news organizations.
Wolfe is slated to make his first court appearance in the case on Friday at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
The New York Timesreported Thursday that one of its reporters, Ali Watkins, had years of phone and email records seized as part of the leak investigation.
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. "We were made aware of the investigation late previous year, and have fully cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice since then". Watkins appears to be referred to as Reporter #2 in the indictment. He's also accused of lying about his relationship with Watkins when Federal Bureau of Investigation agents asked him about the sources for an article she wrote.
"Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges", MacDougall added.
In a text message to the same unidentified reporter in December, Wolfe allegedly wrote: "I've watched your career take off even before you ever had a career in journalism".
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 prosecution comes amid a Trump administration crackdown on leaks of classified information. President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have decried such disclosures, with Sessions saying in August that the number of leak of criminal leak probes had more than tripled in the early months of the Trump administration. "The allegations in this indictment are doubly troubling as the false statements concern the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and confidential information".
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