Brad Dayspring, a Politico spokesman, said in a statement: "Ms. Watkins' primary beat during her short time at POLITICO was not the Senate Intelligence Committee, which we had two reporters covering, but national security and law enforcement, including topics relating to China, global spy games, and Cuba".
Watkins broke the Carter Page angle of the "Russia investigation" back in April 2017 with a story called "A Former Trump Adviser Met With A Russian Spy". The Times reported Watkins denies receiving classified information from Wolfe during the their relationship. Prosecutors say he also lied about giving two reporters non-public information about committee matters.
A longtime staffer of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee was arrested on Thursday on charges of lying to FBI agents investigating the illegal disclosure of classified information, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia said.
Wolfe served as the intelligence committee's director of security for 29 years, which provided him with access to secret and top secret information.
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. The Times reported that it didn't learn about the seizure until Thursday.
Wolfe, a Maryland resident, was expected to make his first court appearance on Friday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
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The Department of Justice informed Times reporter Ali Watkins in February that it had secretly obtained years of her communication records up to November 2017, from before her employment with the Times, and said it was part of an investigation into leaks of classified government information.
In 2017, Wolfe reportedly admitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation that he was untruthful in his statements about his personal relationship with a reporter, when he was confronted with photos of them together.
"While the charges do not appear to include anything related to the mishandling of classified information, the committee takes this matter extremely seriously", the senators said. Investigators did not then get the content of the messages themselves.
Prosecutors said Wolfe communicated with a fourth reporter using his Senate email account from 2015 to 2017. A few weeks later, "REPORTER #2" published an online article that revealed the identity of "MALE-1". "Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges".
Buzzfeed Editor in Chief Ben Smith said on Twitter that the online publication is "deeply troubled by what looks like a case of law enforcement interfering with a reporter's constitutional right to gather information about her own government".
Attorney General Jeff Sessions past year vowed to crack down on leaks of classified information. "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". "The allegations in this indictment are doubly troubling as the false statements concern the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and confidential information".