Monday, 18 June, 2018

Trump Praises Arrest of Former Senate Committee Aide in Leaks Inquiry

Trump’s DOJ seizes private records of a journalist – here’s why they did The Trump Administration Just Ramped Up Its Attack on the Media By Seizing a NYT Reporter's Phone and Email Records
Ellis Copeland | 08 June, 2018, 21:41

The indictment alleges Watkins and Wolfe spoke on the phone for about seven minutes shortly after the piece was published.

The Wolfe case is also significant because, as the Times noted, "Mr. Wolfe's case led to the first known instance of the Justice Department going after a reporter's data under President Trump". "Has to remain classified". She previously had a three-year romantic relationship with Wolfe, the Times reported, adding that the records covered a period of time before she joined the paper.

"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", Watkins's personal lawyer, Mark MacDougall, said in a statement.

"Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges", he said, according to the AP.

Wolfe and Watkins were in "a personal relationship" that began in 2013 when Watkins was a news service intern in Washington, DC, according to charging documents.

Each false statement count is punishable by up to five years in prison, though if convicted, Wolfe would nearly certainly face only a fraction of that time.

The government alleges that Wolfe lied to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in December 2017 about "repeated contacts" with three reporters, including through the use of encrypted messaging applications. However, he said he did not share confidential information with the person.

Investigators obtained email and phone records for the pair allegedly showing "tens of thousands of electronic communications", including a text message from Wolfe that read in part: "I've watched your career take off even before you ever had a career in journalism". Wolfe cautioned the reporter to "never use [his] name" to any colleagues, the indictment said.

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In recent months, Wolfe has been responsible for accompanying witnesses to the committee's secure spaces in relation to the Russian Federation inquiry.

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".

At this time, Wolfe has not been convicted of wrongdoing in relation to the charges of making false statements and he was not charged with leaking classified information in the federal indictment released by the Justice Department.

During a press conference a year ago, Sessions said the Justice Department was "reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas", asserting that reporters' abilities to disclose information had to be weighed against national security concerns.

Sens. Richard Burr, R. -N.C., and Mark Warner, D-Va., the chair and vice chair, said they'd learned of the investigation late past year and had "fully cooperated" with the authorities since then.

The arrest comes amid a crackdown on intelligence leaking by the Trump administration. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have decried such disclosures, with Sessions saying in August that the number of leaks of criminal leak probes had more than tripled in the early months of the Trump administration.

Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. But she only learned that her records had been seized when she received a letter from the Justice Department in February.

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