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Former Senate staffer indicted in Justice Department leak probe

A former security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee was indicted on charges of giving false statements to FBI

An ex-Senate Intelligence Committee security director was arrested Tuesday for allegedly lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who were investigating unauthorized intelligence leaks to reporters, the Justice Department revealed. According to DOJ guidelines, federal investigators may only obtain records directly from journalists "after all reasonable alternative attempts have been made to obtain the information from alternative sources".

Wolfe was arrested and indicted on charges of lying to the FBI on Thursday as part of that investigation.

The Justice Department's seizure of email and phone records from New York Timesreporter Ali Watkins sparked widespread criticism and fear of an attack on the First Amendment when it was revealed on Thursday.

Wolfe, a Maryland resident, was expected to make his first court appearance on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.

Wolfe did not enter a plea. He is to appear in court again on Tuesday in Washington. "This guy did this because he doesn't like Donald Trump", DiGenova said. "But I'm also a believer in classified information. But I'm also a believer in classified information has to remain classified".

At the time of the article's publication in April 2017, the reporting reinforced the narrative of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who was then the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who were compiling a comprehensive report on the enhanced interrogation program. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and the panel's ranking Democrat, Sen. Mark Warner, said in a joint statement that they were troubled by the charges. Late a year ago, Sessions said the department had 27 open leak investigations - dwarfing what had also been a high number of leak probes pursued by the Obama administration.

Watkins tweeted in 2013 about Netflix House of Cards character Zoe Barnes, an intrepid reporter involved in a brief romantic affair with then-Congressman Frank Underwood, a relationship many see as having parallels with Watkins and Wolfe's relationship. His wife was listed as the complainant.

The investigation of Wolfe came to light this week after the committee said that it was cooperating with the Justice Department "in a pending investigation arising out of the unauthorized disclosure of information". The clearances are reviewed every five years.

Since the story went public, her employers have expressed concerns about the government obtaining her records.

New York Times journalist Ali Watkins had several years of email and phone records seized by federal prosecutors, it emerged on Friday. Mr. Wolfe was not a source of classified information for Ms. Watkins during their relationship, she said.

"Reporters can't leak. You cannot leak classified information". "We need to figure that out", he said. On Oct. 17, "Reporter #3" published an article reporting on the subpoena.

On Friday morning, Trump said the Justice Department had caught "a very important leaker" and said it could be a "terrific thing".

The threat to journalists has steadily increased since the abusive surveillance conducted by the Obama administration against James Rosen, a former Fox News reporter. No changes have been made public to date, however.

Sessions' remarks threatened a break with the Obama Justice Department policy, which asserted that reporters would not be targeted. Watkins' story reported that Russian agents had tried to recruit Page in 2013.

Free-press advocates also questioned whether prosecutors had acted appropriately. "Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and we believe that communications between journalists and their sources demand protection", Eileen Murphy, a Times spokesperson, said. For McCabe not to be charged would lead to a torrent of criticism over the failure of the Justice Department to apply the same standards to its own lawyers.

Wolfe was charged with three counts of making false statements to investigators when they interviewed him in December. The indictment indicates that investigators obtained copies of many of those messages. Neither the reporter nor the person who was subpoenaed is named in the indictment. Her name and two other McClatchy reporters are listed on the Pulitzer web site. She broke that news in a Buzz Feed article 14 months ago. The communications date back to her time as a college student, and include the period she wrote for HuffPost, Politico, and Buzzfeed. But she only learned that her records had been seized when she received a letter from the Justice Department in February.