An ex-Senate staffer who was a member of the Intelligence Committee pleaded guilty Monday to lying to the FBI as part of a broader investigation into the leaking of classified information to the press.
James Wolfe, 57, who was the Senate Committee’s security director, was charged with three counts of making false statements to federal authorities before cutting a plea deal wherein he confessed his guilt on one of the counts, according to multiple reports. The other two counts have been dismissed.
During the investigation, federal agents seized emails and phone records belonging to New York Times correspondent Ali Watkins, with whom Wolfe had a romantic relationship.
“At the time Wolfe made the false statement to the FBI, he was the director of security for the (Senate panel), a position he held for more than 28 years,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “Wolfe was entrusted with receiving, maintaining, and managing classified national security information provided to the (Senate panel).”
Big League Politics reported on Wolfe and Watkins’ unethical relationship:
A New York Times reporter had her phone and email records seized after her lover, a staff member for the Senate Intelligence Committee (SSCI) was arrested for lying to the FBI during an investigation into the leak of classified information.
Reporter Ali Watkins had a three-year relationship with James A. Wolfe, longtime director of security for the SSCI. He is alleged to have made false statements to the FBI regarding his relationship with three reporters in connection to the Carter Page case.
“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,” according to the New York Times.
The answer to that question is now obvious. Watkins slept with Wolfe, and he leaked the dirt to her in return.
Watkins hilariously denounced such a practice during her more innocent days in journalism school.
“I wanted to be Zoe Barnes…until episode 4. Sleeping with your source- especially a vindictive congressman?,” she said in reference to the show “House of Cards.”
— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) April 2, 2013
The Times, predictably, denounced the seizure of Barnes’ illegally leaked communications as an “attack” on the free press.
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and communications between journalists and their sources demand protection,” said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman in June.
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