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Top US Senate staffer charged in leak investigation

08 June 2018

Brad Dayspring, a Politico spokesman, said in a statement: "Ms. Watkins' primary beat during her short time at POLITICO was not the Senate Intelligence Committee, which we had two reporters covering, but national security and law enforcement, including topics relating to China, global spy games, and Cuba".

James Wolfe repeatedly gave "nonpublic information" to some reporters while chief of security, including one with whom he had a personal relationship with since 2014, and lied about those contacts in a December 2017 interview with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to a grand jury indictment.

He also is accused of lying about giving two reporters non-public information about committee business. He allegedly provided federal investigators with false denials about his contacts with three reporters and falsely claimed he did not share sensitive Intelligence Committee information with two of them, according to the indictment.

Wolfe, 58, served as the panel's security director for 29 years, according to the feds.

Wolfe was arrested and indicted on charges of lying to the FBI on Thursday as part of that investigation.

The newspaper reports, "Shortly before she began working at The Times, Ms. Watkins was approached by the F.B.I. agents, who asserted that Mr. Wolfe had helped her with articles while they were dating".

The indictment provides a detailed account of Wolfe's interactions with one specific unnamed reporter.

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This constituted a violation of Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution, she was quoted as saying by the Pakistani media. She alleged that sexual favours were used to appoint people to powerful posts.

In his position, Wolfe had access to secret and top-secret information. "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", they said.

The Department of Justice informed Times reporter Ali Watkins in February that it had secretly obtained years of her communication records up to November 2017, from before her employment with the Times, and said it was part of an investigation into leaks of classified government information.

They added that "the charges do not appear to include anything related to the mishandling of classified information".

The pair allegedly exchanged "tens of thousands of electronic communications", including daily texts and phone calls, sometimes through encrypted cell-phone applications. Watkins appears to be referred to as Reporter #2 in the indictment.

In response to an inquiry from CNN, her lawyer Mark J. MacDougall said, "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". President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have decried such disclosures, and announced a sharp increase in leak investigations. He also maintained a yearslong personal relationship with one reporter, which prosecutors say he lied about until being confronted with a photograph of him and the journalist. "It is hoped that these charges will be a warning to those who might lie to law enforcement to the detriment of the United States".

The prosecution comes amid a Trump administration crackdown on leaks of classified information.

Top US Senate staffer charged in leak investigation