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Former Senate staffer indicted in Justice Department leak probe

On Thursday, a federal grand jury indicted James A. Wolfe, the Senate Intelligence Committee's former director of security, for lying to the FBI about repeated contact with three reporters.

The Justice Department said in a statement that Wolfe lied to agents in December 2017 about the contact he had with reporters, including through encrypted messaging programs. As director of security, Wolfe "was entrusted with access to classified secret and top secret information provided by the executive branch, including the U.S. intelligence community" and was "responsible for safeguarding" this information, the Justice Department said. He was arrested on Thursday, and will appear in court on Friday.

Right before Wolfe's indictment was announced, The New York Times reported that the Justice Department notified national security reporter Ali Watkins in February that it had seized her phone and email records going back several years in connection with a probe into leaks of classified information. Watkins and Wolfe were once in a romantic relationship, and Watkins had told the Times and her previous employers, BuzzFeed News and Politico, about it.

The Times said that shortly after Watkins started working at the newspaper in late 2017, she was approached by FBI agents who stated that Wolfe had helped her with articles while they were dating. She did not answer their questions, the Times reports, but she said he was never a source of classified information during their relationship. In a statement, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said "freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and communications between journalists and their sources demand protection."