A former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer was indicted as part of a federal investigation into an improper leak of classified information to reporters, the Justice Department announced Thursday evening.
CNN was first to report on Thursday that the Justice Department was probing the former Intelligence Committee staffer, James Wolfe, a 57-year-old retired aide, who formerly protected sensitive information shared with lawmakers on the committee.
Wolfe was arrested following his indictment by a federal grand jury in Washington on three counts of making false statement to the FBI about his contacts with reporters. 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 is set to appear in federal court in Washington, D.C. on Friday.
As part of the probe, prosecutors also seized several years’ worth of New York Times’ reporter Ali Watkins’ email and phone data. Watkins had allegedly been in a three-year relationship with Wolfe and was informed of the records seizure in a letter from the national security division of the U.S. attorney’s office in February. The Times reported that it didn’t learn about the seizure until Thursday. This is the first known case of a journalists’ records being seized by the government under President Trump.
Wolfe reportedly used encrypted messaging applications to communicate with four reporters, prosecutors alleged. The FBI began looking into Watkins’ sources after she reported on Russian spies’ efforts to work with former Trump campaign aide Carter Page in April 2017, according to The Times. Wolfe was also in communication with another unnamed reporter about a story related to Page’s subpoena to testify before the committee. He served as an unnamed source for another reporter and was in contact with a fourth journalist through his Senate email address for at least three years, according to the indictment.
Read the indictment below: