A long-time security official with the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has been charged with lying to investigators probing the disclosure of classified information from the committee’s probe of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election.
James Wolfe, a 30-year veteran aide with the SCCI who served as the top security official to the panel, was arraigned Thursday on three counts of lying to investigators.
“Wolfe is alleged to have lied to FBI agents in December 2017 about his repeated contacts with three reporters, including through his use of encrypted messaging applications. Wolfe is further alleged to have made false statements to the FBI about providing two reporters with non-public information related to the matters occurring before the SCCI,” federal prosecutors contended in a Thursday hearing.
Wolfe is not charged with disclosing classified information; however, prosecutors say he was in regular contact with three journalists who cover the committee’s hearings, often meeting with them in both public and private settings.
Ahead of Wolfe’s court appearance, The New York Times reported the Justice Department had seized as evidence the email and phone correspondence of Times reporter Ali Watkins, which included “tens of thousands” of messages between the duo.
Wolfe is believed to have shared information from the government to the committee with Watkins and two other unnamed journalists.
During a December 2017 interview with investigators, Wolfe allegedly denied sharing information with the journalists and denied having official contact with them.
Following his signed affidavit declaring he had not held meetings with journalists, investigators confronted Wolfe with photographic evidence of his meetings with one journalist, Watkins.
Wolfe later conceded to being a source for and admitted to being in a romantic relationship with Watkins. Wolfe did not enter a plea during his appearance in court and did not comment on the charges after leaving court.
Charged on three counts, Wolfe faces five years imprisonment on each charge if convicted.
[Wall Street Journal] [CNN] [AP] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via New York Post]