James Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee official, has been arrested following an investigation of classified information leaks to multiple reporters, including the New York Times’ Ali Watkins with whom he had a three-year personal relationship.
Wolfe was charged with repeatedly lying to investigators about his ties to Watkins and two other reporters. He allegedly transmitted encrypted messages as a means to leak sensitive information related to the committee’s work.
Wolfe was a longtime director of security for the committee which was charged with investigating supposed ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
He denied knowing Watkins to authorities, but transmissions indicate he provided her with information about former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. (RELATED: Was Carter Page An Undercover FBI Informant?).
The Times reporter penned a column for BuzzFeed News in April 2017, regarding Page being recruited by a Russian spy. According to Fox News, Wolfe had consistent contact with Watkins about Page on the same day he received classified information about him, then contacted her again shortly after the Russian spy story went live.
Watkins has had multiple years-worth of email and phone records seized by prosecutors.
As a result of the investigation into leaks aiming to hurt the @realDonaldTrump administration, today the DOJ arrested Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James A. Wolfe for lying about his contacts with @nytimes reporter Ali Watkins. Ali was sleeping with her source for years. pic.twitter.com/vFONGlhxp0
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) June 8, 2018
Watkins’ Twitter feed, which has surprisingly remained public even as this story gains traction, is rife with hypocrisy.
In April 2013, she tweeted about a House of Cards plotline in which fictional reporter Zoe Barnes sleeps with her source, Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Francis Underwood.
“I wanted to be Zoe Barnes … until episode 4,” she wrote. “Sleeping with your source – especially a vindictive congressman?”
She followed that with the hashtag – #badlifechoice.
— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) April 2, 2013
In another tweet two months later, Watkins again references Zoe Barnes but adds a hint of approval to her actions, couching it with the hashtag #TOTALLYKIDDING.
“So on a scale of 1 to ethical, how does everyone feel about pulling a @RealZoeBarnes for story ideas?” she asked.
— Ali Watkins (@AliWatkins) June 20, 2013
Months after her Carter Page scoop, Watkins actually accused “Trumpster lawyers” of leaking information and blaming it on the committee, knowing full-well she was getting that information from Wolfe.
So this reporter was sleeping with her source then tweeting out about how it was a Trump lawyer leaking, which isn’t true. https://t.co/XyfuDG6sEX
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) June 8, 2018
The Trump administration’s crackdown on reporters is nothing new, and in fact, is a continuation of policies begun under the Obama administration. His predecessor’s Justice Department also obtained records of reporters’ communications in an effort to fight back against illegal leaks.
Wolfe was indicted on three false statement counts, one for each reporter he allegedly leaked information to, with each count punishable by up to five years in prison.
Why did the New York Times allow Ali Watkins to continue reporting in the Intel Committee’s work if they knew of her relationship with this security director? Share your thoughts below!