Ex-Senate Intel aide pleads not guilty in leak case

Ex-Senate Intel aide pleads not guilty in leak case
© Greg Nash

A former Senate Intelligence Committee aide pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters.

The Washington Post reported that attorneys for James Wolfe entered the plea during an arraignment in federal court in Washington, D.C.

Wolfe’s attorneys additionally told judge Deborah Robinson that they would likely seek a gag order to bar attorneys from making public statements about the case in order to ensure an impartial jury.

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Wolfe is due back in court on June 19, The Washington Post reported.

Wolfe, who served as the director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee for 29 years, was indicted last week as part of a Justice Department investigation into the leaking of classified information.

Wolfe allegedly lied to the FBI in December about his communications with multiple reporters through encrypted messaging applications. He also is accused of lying about giving two reporters nonpublic information about committee business.

Journalists and free press advocates decried the Justice Department seizing phone and email records from New York Times reporter Ali Watkins as part of the investigation.

Watkins was previously in a three-year relationship with Wolfe, but has said Wolfe did not act as a source during that time.

The Trump administration has sought to crack down on leaks, which have plagued the White House in particular. The Justice Department noted that priority in its announcement of the Wolfe indictment.

“The Attorney General has stated that investigations and prosecutions of unauthorized disclosure of controlled information are a priority of the Department of Justice. 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.