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Leaker found? Former Senate staffer charged with lying to FBI about reporter contacts

A former Senate staffer has been accused of leaking info, and a New York Times journalist is reportedly involved. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

A former long-time staffer for the Senate Intelligence Committee, James A. Wolfe, 58, was charged on Thursday with lying to the FBI. He is reportedly accused of sharing non-public information of the Committee's business to members of the press.

Wolfe was charged with three counts of making false statements during an investigation of "the unauthorized disclosure of information," which was endorsed by the entirety of the Senate. He had previously served as security director to the Committee for 29 years.

Tell us what you know!

It's limited, for now. But as reported earlier on Thursday evening by TheBlaze, a New York Times reporter's private messages were seized by the Department of Justice. No word yet on whether the two stories are related, for certain. But there are definitely signs.

The Times reporter, Ali Watkins, declined to comment on the matter.

In the indictment, it's indicated that after Wolfe handled classified documents related to the "Russia probe," he exchanged 82 text messages with a reporter the same evening. Later, that same reporter revealed the identity of Carter Page, who was part of the Committee's investigation.

At the time, Watkins was a reporter for BuzzFeed.

Who is this Wolfe guy?

As the security director of the Senate Committee handling the Russia probe for the past 18 months, Wolfe was the person in charge of enforcing security measures during the proceedings, making the charges even more disturbing. He reportedly resigned "last winter."

After FBI agents presented photos to Wolfe of him and Watkins together, he admitted to having a personal relationship with the reporter and confessed that he had lied about not sharing information with her. But he still maintains that he did not disclose anything confidential.

In a joint statement responding to the news late Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said: "We are troubled to hear of the charges filed against a former member of the Committee staff.

"While the charges do not appear to include anything related to the mishandling of classified information, the Committee takes this matter extremely seriously. We were made aware of the investigation late last year, and have fully cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice since then."

U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu said, "Mr. Wolfe's alleged conduct is a betrayal of the extraordinary public trust that had been placed in him. 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."



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