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

DOJ investigating ex Senate Intel staffer for leaking information

DOJ investigating ex Senate Intel staffer for leaking information

The DOJ alleges that Wolfe, in his official capacity in December 2017, lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents about his alleged contacts with three reporters, and made false statements about giving "non-public information" to two reporters, a department press release said.

When law enforcement officials obtained journalists' records during the Obama administration, members of Congress in both parties sounded alarms, and the moves touched off such a firestorm among advocates for press freedom that helped prompt the Justice Department to rewrite its relevant guidelines.

The former aide, James A. Wolfe, 57, was charged with lying repeatedly to investigators about his contacts with three reporters. In one instance, phone records showed extensive contact between Wolfe and a reporter around the publication of an article that revealed secret information.

Wolfe is also accused of making false statements about providing "non-public information related to matters occurring before the [Senate Intelligence Committee]" to two additional reporters.

Wolfe is expected to make his first court appearance on Friday.

Watkins gained national attention in 2014, when she and two other reporters broke the story that the Central Intelligence Agency was spying on Senate staffers of Sen. The series was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting in 2015. "This is why we believe that the government's seizure of Ali Watkins's data sets a risky precedent".

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But he added, "It's clearly inappropriate for a reporter to be in a relationship with a source and to be reporting on him". Wolfe also did not respond to requests for comments.

According to prosecutors, in October 2017, Wolfe contacted Reporter #4 using Signal, offering to act as an anonymous source.

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McClatchy's series, which was published throughout 2014, was chockablock with revelations about the internal workings of the intelligence committee. "WOLFE and REPORTER #2 also communicated with each other through encrypted ceIl phone applications".

In February, a prosecutor told Watkins that the Justice Department had years of customer records and subscriber information, including from Google and Verizon, for her email accounts and a phone number.

It is not clear whether investigators exhausted all of their avenues of information before confiscating Ms. Watkins's information. Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the New York Times, was quoted in the newspaper saying: "Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and communications between journalists and their sources demand protection".

In a joint statement responding to the news late Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Sen.

After her explosive Buzzfeed scoop about Page, Watkins secured a job at the prestigious New York Times - where she is now employed.

Wolfe is alleged to have leaked information to Watkins that, among other things, exposed Trump campaign staffer Carter Page as the individual (identified as "Male-1" in court documents) Russian agents attempted to recruit in 2013.

Ben Smith, BuzzFeed's editor in chief, 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". Neither the reporter nor the person who was subpoenaed is named in the indictment. "The allegations in this indictment are doubly troubling as the false statements concern the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and confidential information".

Wolfe's identity had been previously undisclosed, but the Senate had quietly passed a resolution Wednesday evening authorizing lawmakers to provide the Justice Department with documents in connection to the investigation.

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