The crackdown on leakers has begun with the arrest of James Wolfe, a longtime staffer at the Senate Intelligence Committee. Wolfe was indicted and arrested Thursday night for giving false statements to FBI agents during their investigation into leaks of classified information to the media.
Mr. Wolfe’s case led to the first known instance of the Justice Department going after a reporter’s data under President Trump. The seizure was disclosed in a letter to the Times reporter, Ali Watkins, who had been in a three-year relationship with Mr. Wolfe. The seizure suggested that prosecutors under the Trump administration will continue the aggressive tactics employed under President Barack Obama.
In his role with the committee, Mr. Wolfe was responsible for safeguarding classified and other sensitive information shared with lawmakers. He stopped performing committee work in December and retired in May.
Court documents describe Mr. Wolfe’s communications with four reporters — including Ms. Watkins — using encrypted messaging applications. It appeared that the F.B.I. was investigating how Ms. Watkins learned that Russian spies in 2013 had tried to recruit Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy adviser. She published an article for BuzzFeed News on April 3, 2017, about the attempted recruitment of Mr. Page in which he confirmed the contacts.
F.B.I. agents initially approached Ms. Watkins about the relationship she had with Mr. Wolfe, saying they were investigating unauthorized leaks. The Justice Department told her in a letter sent in February that her records had been seized. The Times learned on Thursday of the letter, which came from the national security division of the United States attorney’s office in Washington.
In another case, the indictment said, Mr. Wolfe used an encrypted messaging app to alert another reporter in October 2017 that he had served Mr. Page with a subpoena to testify before the committee. The reporter, who was not named, published an article disclosing that Mr. Page had been compelled to appear. After it was published, Mr. Wolfe wrote to the journalist to say, “Good job!” and, “I’m glad you got the scoop,” according to court papers.
The same month, Mr. Wolfe reached out to a third reporter on the same unidentified app to offer to serve as an unnamed source, the documents said.
Mr. Wolfe also communicated with a fourth reporter, using his Senate email account, from 2015 to 2017, prosecutors said. They said he denied those contacts.
James Wolfe indicted pic.twitter.com/YkgHUm3xPR
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) June 8, 2018
Source: NY Times