Data seizure from New York Times reporter sets unsafe precedent

Trump administration seizes phone records and emails of Times reporter

Each false statement count is punishable by up to five years in prison, though if convicted, Wolfe would nearly certainly face only a fraction of that time.

Former senior Senate Intelligence Committee aide James Wolfe will likely face hard time for revealing sensitive classified information to a New York Times reporter with whom he was sexually involved, according to Joseph diGenova.

It said Watkins had been in a three-year romantic relationship with Wolfe. He worked closely with both Democrats and Republicans on the committee. They added that "the charges do not appear to include anything related to the mishandling of classified information". On Oct. 17, Reporter #3 asked Wolfe, using the encrypted messaging app Signal, to provide Page's contact information, and Wolfe obliged, according to the indictment.

"The Attorney General has stated that investigations and prosecutions of unauthorized disclosure of controlled information are a priority of the Department of Justice", said Assistant Attorney General John Demers in a statement.

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"It certainly seems like the Justice Department may have violated these internal guidelines as part of this case, which require the Justice Department "exhaust" all other means of investigating before considering directly going after a journalist", Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, said in a statement. After being confronted, WOLFE admitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation agents that he had lied to them and that he had engaged in a personal relationship with REPORTER #2 since 2014, but maintained that he (WOLFE) had never disclosed to REPORTER #2 classified information or information that he learned as Director of Security for the SSCI that was not otherwise publicly available. Watkins is suspected of receiving information from Wolfe, who she was in a relationship with for three years. He initially denied knowing her, then when shown photos of them together, he admitted they had been in a three-year relationship. The newspaper also said that Watkins said that Wolfe was not a source of classified information for her during their relationship. Burr and Warner added that the Wolfe case will "in no way" interfere with the committee's ongoing probe into Russia's interference in the 2016 USA election.

Wolfe allegedly was in contact with the reporter and exchanged tens of thousands of electronic communications and often daily phone calls, according to the indictment.

Wolfe has not been charged with leaking classified information. As security director, Wolfe was responsible for maintaining classified information.

Watkins has covered a number of high-profile national security stories during the Trump administration, including former Trump advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos' communications with Russians during and before the Trump campaign. "We fear it could be an opening salvo in an ongoing battle over reporters' ability to protect their sources".

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The fear now is that the Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department has begun what could be a much more intensive attack on press freedom.

Wolfe's identity had been previously undisclosed, but the Senate had quietly passed a resolution Wednesday evening authorizing lawmakers to provide the Justice Department with documents in connection to the investigation.

If the manner by which the Justice Department pursued these records sounds familiar, it should: Something similar happened in 2013 when the Justice Department collected two months of phone records from Associated Press reporters to try to track down the source of a leak about a Central Intelligence Agency operation in Yemen.

"It's very interesting that they caught a leaker.it's a very important leaker", the President said while speaking to reporters at the White House. He is set to appear before a federal court in Washington today. "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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