Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

The Justice Department Seized Reporter's Records, New York Times Says

The Justice Department Seized Reporter's Records, New York Times Says

The newspaper says it learned of the letter Thursday, and the records covered several years before Watkins joined The Times in late 2017.

It's rare for the government to obtain the communications of reporters as part of a leak investigation, and the seizure of Watkins's records, the first known case under the Trump administration, signals the aggressiveness with which officials are pursuing leaks to the press. He has been accused of giving sensitive information to at least two reporters.

Authorities said he also lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about providing two of the reporters with private information on the work of the committee, of which he was director of security for 29 years.

The FBI was conducting a criminal investigation "into multiple unauthorized disclosures of classified information to one or more members of the news media", according to the indictment.

Sessions' remarks at the time earned him some criticism from press-freedom advocates who had been sounding alarms over the Trump administration's public hostilities toward reporters and news organizations.

Wolfe, 58, of Ellicott City, Maryland, is due in court Friday.

New York Times reporter Ali Watkins had her phone and email records seized as part of a Justice Department investigation into leaks, the paper revealed Thursday night.


They added that "the charges do not appear to include anything related to the mishandling of classified information". "We were made aware of the investigation late a year ago and have fully cooperated with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice since then", they said.

Prosecutors said Wolfe communicated with a fourth reporter using his Senate email account from 2015 to 2017. In it, Watkins claimed, "The revelation of Page's connection to Russian intelligence - which occurred more than three years before his association with Trump - is the most clearly documented contact to date between Russian intelligence and someone in Trump's orbit". A few weeks later, "REPORTER #2" published an online article that revealed the identity of "MALE-1".

In response to an inquiry from CNN, her lawyer Mark J. MacDougall said, "It's always disconcerting when a journalist's telephone records are obtained by the Justice Department - through a grand jury subpoena or other legal process".

She also said she informed editors at BuzzFeed and Politico of the relationship.

"Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and scope of any charges", McDougall told the network.

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. "The allegations in this indictment are doubly troubling as the false statements concern the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and confidential information", Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said in a statement.

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