US Senate aide charged over leaking stories to reporters

Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr at left a North Carolina Republican and Senate Intelligence Vice Chairman Mark Warner at right a Virginia Democrat hold a news conference on the status of the committee's inquiry into Russian interferenc

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Watkins' byline appeared on an April 2017 BuzzFeed article that revealed Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had met with a Russian intelligence operative in 2013.

At the same time, the admission of a personal relationship between the reporter and the source raised questions about journalistic ethics.

Watkins has said that Wolfe was not the source of the classified information she had received.

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. He said he was still getting details on the case.

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"I'm a big, big believer in the freedom of the press", Mr. Trump said Friday at the White House "But I'm also a believer that you can not leak classified information". He was responsible for receiving, maintaining all classified information from the Executive Office to the committee. "It has to remain classified".

As part of the probe, the Justice Department seized years of records related to two email accounts and a phone number belonging to New York Times reporter Ali Watkins, the newspaper reported. Wolfe reportedly first denied and then acknowledged a years-long romantic relationship with Watkins, who worked at Buzzfeed News and Politico prior to the Times. On that day, the indictment states, Wolfe exchanged 82 text messages with Watkins and that evening had a 28-minute phone call with her.

"Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and we believe that communications between journalists and their sources demand protection", Eileen Murphy, spokesperson for the Times, said in a statement. "Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges". Wolfe is scheduled to make his initial appearance on Friday morning at the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer.

The criminal case arises from a December 2017 Federal Bureau of Investigation interview with Wolfe in which he denied having relationships with journalists or discussing committee business with them.

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In a joint statement responding to the news late Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Sen. A government employee's security clearance can be denied if they have a criminal record of any sort. Prosecutors said Saucier held a secret security clearance and "knew that the photos depicted classified material and that he was not authorized to take them". In it, he said he had "always tried to give you as much information that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else".

Wolfe abruptly departed the senate panel at the end of 2017 where he worked under leadership of both parties since 1987, reported CNN. "The way the indictment is written is clearly aimed at launching a disgusting smear of a reporter, and it has had that effect", he said. He has been accused of giving sensitive information to at least two reporters. President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have decried such disclosures, and announced a sharp increase in leak investigations.

The Obama administration had its own repeated tangles with journalists, including secretly subpoenaing phone records of Associated Press reporters and editors during a 2012 leak investigation into a story about a bomb plot. "Efforts by government that undermine this ability therefore represent a fundamental threat to press freedom", said CPJ's North America Program Coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck from Kansas City.

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