Times says Justice seized reporter's email, phone records

Times says Justice seized reporter's email, phone records

Wolfe, the longtime director of security for the committee - one of multiple congressional panels investigating potential ties between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign - was indicted on three false statement counts after prosecutors say he misled agents about his relationships with reporters.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says it is concerned about the Justice Department's seizure of phone and email records from a New York Times reporter as part of a case against a Senate intelligence committee staffer charged with lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Wolfe served in the job for almost 30 years, from 1987 until last December. Trump has made no secret of his disdain for the press and has, in the past, called for jailing of journalists who disseminate leaked information to the public.

It's clear from the context of the indictment that Watkins was the author of one story the FBI was investigating to determine who served as her source or sources.

After admitting that he lied, Wolfe said that he did not have contact with any other reporters, but the indictment alleges he was in contact with three other reporters. 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' phone data and emails were grabbed by the Trump administration's Justice Department as part of its investigation of Jim Wolfe, a past director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee. Investigators did not obtain the content of the messages.

A prosecutor informed Watkins in a February 13 letter that the Justice Department had obtained records and subscriber information from communications companies, including Google and Verizon, pertaining to two email accounts and a phone number belonging to her, according to the Times, which learned of the letter on Thursday.

Under Justice Department regulations, investigators must clear additional hurdles before they can seek business records that could reveal a reporter's confidential sources, such as phone and email records. Her name and two other McClatchy reporters are listed on the Pulitzer web site.

INSKEEP: OK. So part of this is getting the phone records of a New York Times reporter or someone who worked for a number of news organizations including, ultimately, The New York Times.

Wolfe could not be reached for comment after the hearing.

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In a statement, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, said the panel is "troubled" by the charges.

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 committee is also conducting its own investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign.

NYT said yesterday, it learnt of a February letter informing Watkins that her records had been obtained, adding that those records covered a period before she started working for NYT late a year ago. "Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges".

Wolfe was the security director at the SSCI for three decades from 1987 to 2017 and reportedly managed all classified information, from the Executive Office to the panel. As director of security, Wolfe received the document. Turns out Wolfe had dated Watkins for three years and they had a history of private communications.

Watkins wrote an article past year, for example, revealing that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page passed documents to a Russian intelligence operative in 2013. And about 20 minutes after the article posted, the two had a cellphone call that lasted seven minutes.

The Justice Department said Wolfe texted Watkins in December, "I watched your career take off even before you had a career in journalism.I always tried to give you as much information as I could and to do the right thing with it so you can get that scoop before anyone else". The agents then showed Wolfe pictures showing him together with Watkins.

Wolfe allegedly called "REPORTER #2" almost a half-hour after the story went live and had a phone conversation for about seven minutes. According to the indictment, Wolfe lied about having had contact with the reporters between December 2015 and December 2017.

Katie Pavlich agreed on "America's Newsroom" that the government has every right to prosecute people for leaking classified information, but at the same time reporters have a "valid reason to be concerned" about how the government goes about seizing reporters' electronic information.

On October 16, using the encrypted messaging app Signal, he informed a reporter identified as No. 3 that he had served a subpoena on Mr. Page. Later that day, that reporter published a story disclosing that Page had been subpoenaed to testify before the committee. Wolfe appeared at the Maryland courthouse because he was arrested in that jurisdiction, but the case will proceed in Washington. If he violates those conditions, Coulson said Wolfe could face additional prison time.

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