Published: Sat, June 09, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Former U.S. Senate aide charged with lying about reporter contacts

Former U.S. Senate aide charged with lying about reporter contacts

The indictment alleges that on March 17, 2017, US intelligence agencies provided a classified document to the Senate Intelligence Committee. He was working as Director of Security for the SSCI, a position he held for approximately 29 years when he made false allegations. "It's hard to imagine that the Justice Department did that in this case", Miller said.

Editors at McClatchy said Friday that they were not aware of Watkins' relationship with Wolfe while she was with the news organization's Washington bureau, first as an intern and stretching from mid-2013 to the end of 2014.

Burr and Warner, who did not mention Wolfe by name, said in the statement that "this news is disappointing, as the former staffer in question served on the committee for more than three decades and in the Armed Forces with distinction".

The Times noted, meanwhile, that Watkins had been in a three-year romantic relationship with Wolfe, and that the indictment is based on false statements about the relationship.

Watkins joined the Times in December, after her relationship with Wolfe had ended.

It's clear from the context of the indictment that Watkins was the author of one story the FBI was investigating to determine who served as her source or sources.

On April 3, Watkins, then a reporter for BuzzFeed News, authored a story that revealed that former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser Carter Page had been in contact with at least one Russian spy working undercover in NY in 2013.

The FBI said Wolfe provided classified information about the Page investigation to Watkins and leaked information to three other reporters on different topics related to the intelligence committee.

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

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Another of Watkins' former employers also faulted the Justice Department's conduct.

Watkins has covered a number of high-profile national security stories during the Trump administration, including former Trump advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos' communications with Russians during and before the Trump campaign.

On April 3, 2017, Watkins' byline appeared on a BuzzFeed article that revealed that Page had met with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013. President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have decried such disclosures, and announced a sharp increase in leak investigations.

"Any time that a journalist's ability to do their job is threatened in a manner such as this, it's a major concern", said Politico spokesman Brad Dayspring.

I always tried to give you as much information that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else.

The prosecution of Wolfe follows intense pressure from Trump for the Justice Department to crack down on leaks.

"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", she added.

Wolfe will be processed Monday morning at the FBI's Washington field office, and appear at a hearing on the charges in US District Court for the District of Columbia on Tuesday, Coulson ordered.

The Senate Intelligence Committee hinted at the leak investigations on Wednesday, noting that it was cooperating with the DOJ "in a pending investigation", while the Senate had earlier voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to share committee information with the DOJ "in connection with a pending investigation arising out of the unauthorized disclosure of information".

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