A federal grand jury handed up an indictment against former Senate Intelligence Committee Security Director James Wolfe this past Thursday. Wolfe is alleged to have leaked classified intelligence to current New York Times reporter Ali Watkins and others, though Watkins was not working for other outfits at the time of the leaks in issue. Wolfe is charged with three counts of lying to the FBI about the leaks. I have embedded the indictment below.
The allegations of the indictment appear inarguable. For the purposes of this post I take them as true. Wolfe has been soundly nailed.
The indictment, incidentally, is signed by Jesse K. Liu. Ms. Liu is the Trump-appointed United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. She took office in September 2017 and she is on the case. Ms. Liu is the United States Attorney to whom the McCabe referral was sent.
Adam Goldman, Nicholas Fandos and Katie Benner cover the story for the Times in “Ex-Senate aide charged in leak case where Times reporter’s records were seized.” Additional reporting is contributed by Matt Apuzzo and Charlie Savage. It takes five Times reporters to dance around this story involving one of their own with the appropriate drama and sensitivity. The article is permeated with the high anxiety that attends coverage of cases in which reporters are treated as citizens like you and me. The FBI seized evidence relating to the leaks from Watkins’s email and cell phone.
New York Times reporters such as Goldman, Fandos, Benner, Apuzzo, Savage and Ms. Watkins seem to think they are a law unto themselves. They might have come by the idea from Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times reporter James Risen. Risen to the contrary notwithstanding, however, I don’t think so. Even Times reporters are subject to the criminal laws of the Untied States. Andrew McCarthy reviews the facts and the law in his NR column “Leak investigations, journalists and double standards.”
Wolfe betrayed the trust placed in him, broke the law and lied about it for the usual reasons and with great abandon. Wolfe’s leaks of classified information obtained in his position with the committee had both a political and a romantic element. They had an anti-Trump angle, of course, but he was also tangled up in blue with the Ms. Watkins.
Wolfe’s betrayals trust mark him as a loathsome specimen of humanity, but what about Watkins? She blamed “Trumpster lawyers” for committee leaks that she almost certainly knew derived from her her man Wolfe. Alex Pappas cautiously covers this aspect of the case in the FOX News story “Ali Watkins’ past tweets come back to haunt NYT reporter amid leak case Alex Pappas.” The Times somehow overlooked it.
UPDATE: The Times has more here in the story by Michael Grynbaum: “Ms. Watkins, after consulting with her lawyer, decided not to disclose the letter [disclosing the seizure of her records] to The Times, according to Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for the newspaper. Editors learned of the seizure from Ms. Watkins on Thursday, as reporters were working on an article about Mr. Wolfe’s impending arrest.” Grynbaum continues to overlook the tweets. “We support her,” Times spokesman Eileen Murphy told Grynbaum.