Senate’s Security Director Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI During Leak Probe

The former director of security for arguably the most important U.S. Senate panel of lawmakers, the Intelligence Committee, on Monday pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the FBI agents who are investigating alleged “leaks” of classified intelligence to a number of reporters. One of the leaks to the New York Times was dated by the suspect, according to officials at the U.S. Justice Department.

James Wolfe is believed by many to have leaked classified information to his mistress in the news media.

The 58-year-old James A. Wolfe, who served as the top Intel committee’s security chief, was in charge of maintaining all classified information coming from the executive branch to the Senate panel. He served as the panel’s security director for 29 years starting as the committee top security official since he was 29-years-old. Prior to that he was an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Defense Department.

The D.C. District Court Judge Ketanji B. Jackson asked Wolfe in court on Monday “Did you make a false statement to the FBI?” . Wolfe had been originally scheduled to appear for a routine status hearing Monday morning, but at Wolf’s morning appearance the federal prosecutors said during a news briefing and wrote a what  that “substantial” negotiations had produced a guilty plea.

“I did, your honor,” Wolfe responded.

Wolfe lied to the FBI in December 2017 about contacts he had with three reporters, according to a statement of offense released Monday as part of his guilty plea. He also allegedly lied about giving two reporters non-public information about committee matters. His guilty plea on Monday to one count means that the other two counts against him will be dismissed.

President Trump this summer said Wolfe’s arrest “could be a terrific thing” and called him a “very important leaker.”

“I’m a big, big believer in freedom of the press,” Trump told reporters. “But I’m also a believer in classified information. It has to remain classified.”

In a statement released after Wolfe’s guilty plea, his lawyers emphasized he had not been charged with leaking classified information.

“Jim has accepted responsibility for his actions and has chosen to resolve this matter now so that he and his family can move forward with their lives,” the attorneys said in the statement.

“We will have much more to say about the facts and Jim’s distinguished record of nearly three decades of dedicated service to the Senate and the intelligence community at his sentencing hearing.”

Wolfe is set for sentencing on Dec. 20, and although the charge carries a maximum potential sentence of five years and a fine of $250,000, he realistically faces up to six months in prison according to federal sentencing guidelines.

Ironically, besides his reporter girlfriends, Wolfe’s wife Jane-Rhodes Wolfe was a member of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for 20-years.

The leaker’s FBI agent wife? Did she know what her husband was doing?

Earlier this year, the New York Times revealed that federal investigators had seized years’ worth of email and phone records relating to one of its reporters, Ali Watkins. She previously had a three-year romantic relationship with Wolfe, the Times reported, adding that the records covered a period of time before she joined the paper. Watkins worked previously for BuzzFeed, Politico and McClatchy.

Wolfe’s contacts with Watkins specifically did not appear related to the charge he admitted on Monday to lying about. Unfortunately, in this currently hyper-sensitive  more and more girls,

Wolfe allegedly exchanged “tens of thousands of electronic communications” with one reporter, including one that read, “”I’ve watched your career take off even before you ever had a career in journalism. . . . I 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 . . . .”

But Wolfe told FBI agents that “he had never disclosed to IRS #2 classified information or information that he learned as Director of Security for the (Committee) that was not otherwise publicly available,” according to court documents and his indictment.

Mark MacDougall, Watkins’ attorney, said after his indictment: “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. Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges.”

Mr. Wolfe used several means to contact reporters, including Signal and WhatsApp, according to court papers. He also met “clandestinely in person,” in secluded areas of the Hart Senate Office Building, according to his indictment and statement of offense.

News of Wolfe’s guilty plea comes weeks after secret text messages revealed that anti-Trump former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page had discussed a “media leak strategy” amid the Russia probe — even as Strzok’s attorney claimed the text merely referred to efforts to stop leaks.

Republicans have charged that the FBI provided misleading or inaccurate information to the FISA court to obtain the warrant. In particular, the FBI incorrectly suggested to the FISA court that a Yahoo News article provided an independent basis to monitor Page, when that article relied on the same source the FBI had cited earlier: ex-spy Christopher Steele, who worked for a firm hired by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Page on Monday announced he was suing the DNC and other entities for allegedly spreading false and defamatory reports about his supposed dealings with Russians.



Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, a columnist, and a contributor to the nationally syndicated talk-radio program, the Chuck Wilder Show.. He's former chief of police at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at St. Peter's University and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.

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