Senate Intel leaders ask judge not to jail former aide amid leak investigation

Current and former leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee have sent a letter to a federal judge urging that a former aide to the committee avoid jail time for lying to investigators amid a leak investigation.

Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrLawmakers applaud Trump's ban on flavored e-cigarettes Trump to hold campaign rally in North Carolina day before special House election Hoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post MORE (R-N.C.), the committee’s current chairman; Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerCalifornia Law to rebuild middle class shows need for congressional action Hillicon Valley: FCC approves Nexstar-Tribune merger | Top Democrat seeks answers on security of biometric data | 2020 Democrats take on Chinese IP theft | How Google, Facebook probes are testing century-old antitrust laws Top Democrat demands answers from CBP on security of biometric data MORE (D-Va.), the committee’s current vice chairman; and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGrassley: Kavanaugh classmate didn't contact Senate panel Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions This week: Congress returns for first time since mass shootings MORE (D-Calif.), a former chairman, submitted the letter, which was published Tuesday by Politico. The letter encourages U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to be lenient on the committee’s former security director, James Wolfe.

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“Like many others, we were surprised and disappointed when we learned of the allegations against Jim as they were totally out of character for someone who we considered a friend and had provided thoughtful support to the Committee's membership and staff for so long,” they wrote.

“While Jim pled guilty to one count of making a false statement to special agents of the FBI, there are no indications that he disclosed classification information, he was not charged with disclosing classified information, and his plea includes no reference to classified information.”

“Jim has already lost much through these events, to include his career and reputation, and we do not believe there is any public utility in depriving him of his freedom,” Burr, Warner and Feinstein added.

The senators in the past have all staked out strong claims against leaking classified information from the committee. 

Wolfe admitted in October to lying to the FBI as it was investigating the leaking of information regarding court-ordered surveillance conducted regarding Carter Page, a former Trump foreign policy adviser who is known to have had multiple contacts with Russians during the campaign. Wolfe was involved with serving Page a subpoena and arranging for his testimony in front of the committee. 

He later admitted he spoke with four reporters about committee business and had an affair with intelligence reporter Ali Watkins, who works for the New York Times.

While federal sentencing guidelines recommend zero to six months in prison, prosecutors are seeking a two-year sentence, according to Politico, and Wolfe could face up to five years behind bars when he appears before Jackson next week.

“The fact that Wolfe, by virtue of his national security training and responsibilities, lied in a national security investigation, the significance of which he was particularly situated to appreciate, is further reason to send a strong message that such conduct will be severely punished,” prosecutors wrote.

Prosecutors Wolfe’s government position and access to classified information warrant the increased sentence, as opposed to shorter, days long sentences imposed on former Trump campaign officials who admitted to lying in special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerFox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal MORE's investigation.

Besides the three senators, former Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperTrump lashes out at former intel officials for criticism of Iran tweet Trump knocks news of CNN hiring ex-FBI official McCabe Conservatives lash out at CNN for hiring Andrew McCabe MORE and former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonoughDenis Richard McDonoughFormer Obama officials willing to testify on McCabe's behalf: report Trailer shows first look at Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein 2020 Democrats fight to claim Obama's mantle on health care MORE also sent letters to prosecutors in support of Wolfe, according to Politico.