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Data seizure from New York Times reporter sets risky precedent

Data seizure from New York Times reporter sets risky precedent

Yet he "maintained that he had never disclosed to REPORTER #2 classified information or information that he learned as Director of Security for the (Committee) that was not otherwise publicly available".

The agents said they were investigating unauthorized leaks.

Brad Dayspring, a Politico spokesman, said in a statement: "Ms. Watkins' primary beat during her short time at POLITICO was not the Senate Intelligence Committee, which we had two reporters covering, but national security and law enforcement, including topics relating to China, global spy games, and Cuba".

The FBI asserted that Wolfe had helped Watkins with articles while they were dating but Watkins said Wolfe was not a source of classified information during their relationship, according to the Times.

Watkins wrote an article a year ago, for example, revealing that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in 2013. Recently, he demanded immunity from Congress as a condition for answering questions about the actions of the Justice Department under his leadership.

Wolfe is also accused of making false statements about providing "non-public information related to matters occurring before the [Senate Intelligence Committee]" to two additional reporters. Watkins is suspected of receiving information from Wolfe, who she was in a relationship with for three years.

Federal prosecutors obtained reporters' records in several cases under President Barack Obama, but the Justice Department in Obama's second term adopted rules created to shield reporters in many circumstances. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said he lied about his relationship with the reporter and about revealing information to her.

"We were made aware of the investigation late previous year, and have fully cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice since then", Burr's statement said. The committee is one of multiple congressional panels investigating potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.

Wolfe is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court Friday morning. A former top aide to the committee has been charged with three counts of making false statements to federal authorities.




A Justice Department indictment released Friday spells out the Watkins-Wolfe timeline.

The court papers indicate Watkins and Wolfe had a "personal relationship" dating back to 2014.

Despite his denial, the indictment alleges, Wolfe "had, in truth, engaged in extensive contact with multiple reporters", adding that he was "conveying to at least two reporters information about" a person referred to in the documents only as "MALE-1".

But the government says that Wolfe was in frequent communication with several journalists by phone, through encrypted messaging apps and in meetings at bars and restaurants. Yet, one person should be especially discomforted by the indictment: former Federal Bureau of Investigation deputy director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeAct like a spy, talk like a spy, they'll call you an informant Draft of DOJ watchdog report says Comey defied authority: report The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by PhRMA - Primary results give both parties hopes for November MORE. I always tried to give you as much Information (sic) that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else.

In a statement, Watkins' attorney, Mark J. MacDougall, called the seizure of his client's telephone records "disconcerting".

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

President Trump is notoriously obsessed with stopping leaks (unless he's doing the leaking) and now, in what may be a first for his administration, his Justice Department has seized a reporter's data as part of a leak investigation. President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have decried such disclosures, with Sessions saying in August that the number of leak of criminal leak probes had more than tripled in the early months of the Trump administration.

"I have this warning for would-be leakers: Don't do it", Sessions said.

"Mr. Wolfe's alleged conduct is a betrayal of the extraordinary public trust that had been placed in him".

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