Senate aide pleads not guilty in leaks case
WASHINGTON — A veteran Senate Intelligence Committee staffer pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of lying repeatedly to FBI agents investigating his contacts with journalists as part of an inquiry into the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information.
The case against James A. Wolfe, 57, the Senate panel’s longtime director of security, was unsealed Thursday. He is charged with three counts of making false statements to agents who as part of the investigation seized emails and phone records belonging to a New York
Times reporter. One of the four reporters who prosecutors alleged received information from Wolfe was identified as New York
Times correspondent Ali Watkins, the newspaper has said, adding that Wolfe and Watkins had a romantic relationship that began about four years ago.
A federal prosecutor notified Watkins on Feb. 13 that Justice had obtained information on her Google email accounts and Verizon phone, the
Times reported. The action departed from traditional practice by federal authorities who generally notify reporters in advance before seeking their communications. The seized records spanned years before and after Watkins joined the Times in 2017 to cover federal law enforcement.
It is the first known instance in which the Trump administration has seized records from a journalist during the course of a leak investigation.
Watkins’ attorney, Mark MacDougall, had described the seizure as “disconcerting.”