Jeff Sessions

  • James Wolfe, the former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been arrested on charges of lying to the FBI, the US Justice Department announced on Thursday night.
  • Those charges stem from an investigation into leaks of classified information, a DOJ press release said.
  • Wolfe, as part of his security director role, had access to classified secret and top secret information. He’s accused of lying to FBI agents in December 2017 about his alleged contacts with three reporters, and accused of making false statements about giving what the DOJ called “non-public information” related to the Senate Intel Committee to two reporters.
  • The development follows Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ previous assertion that the government planned to ratchet up its crackdowns on internal leaks.

James Wolfe, the longtime security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee, has been arrested on charges of lying to the FBI in a case targeting leaks of classified information.

The DOJ alleges that Wolfe, in his official capacity in December 2017, lied to FBI agents about his alleged contacts with three reporters, and made false statements about giving “non-public information” to two reporters, a department press release said.

As security director for the Senate Intel Committee for nearly 30 years, Wolfe had access to classified secret and top secret information, according to the DOJ.

Wolfe’s arrest and indictment follows a previous threat from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who said the department planned to ratchet up its probe of internal leaks. That was one of President Donald Trump’s chief complaints before and after he took office — and since the Russia investigation began.

During a press conference last year, Sessions said the Justice Department was “reviewing policies affecting media subpoenas,” asserting that reporters’ abilities to disclose information had to be weighed against national security concerns.

Sessions continued at the time:

“We respect the important role that the press plays and will give them respect, but it is not unlimited. They cannot place lives at risk with impunity. We must balance their role with protecting our national security and the lives of those who serve in our intelligence community, the armed forces, and all law-abiding Americans.”

Sessions’ remarks in 2017 earned him some criticism from press-freedom advocates who had been sounding the alarm over the Trump administration’s public hostilities toward reporters and news organizations.

Speaking on the matter of Wolfe’s arrest and indictment Thursday night, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers said, “Those entrusted with sensitive information must discharge their duties with honesty and integrity, and that includes telling the truth to law enforcement.”

The US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, also weighed in, saying she hopes the charges against Wolfe “will be a warning to those who might lie to law enforcement to the detriment of the United States.”

If convicted, each charge of lying to federal law enforcement carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

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