Court Battles

Ex-Senate Intel staffer James Wolfe sentenced to two months in jail

Greg Nash

Former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe was sentenced to two months in jail Thursday for lying to the FBI about his communication with reporters.

Wolfe had pleaded guilty in October after being arrested in June for lying about his communication with three reporters, including The New York Times’s Ali Watkins, with whom he allegedly had a years-long romantic relationship.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson said that because of his role in the intelligence community, Wolfe would face more jail time than others might for lying to authorities.

{mosads}”This court routinely sentences people who come from nothing, who have nothing, and whose life circumstances are such that they really don’t have a realistic shot of doing anything other than committing crimes,” Jackson said, according to BuzzFeed News.

“The unfortunate life circumstances of those defendants don’t result in a lower penalty, so why should someone who had every chance of doing the right thing, a person who society rightly expects to live up to high moral and ethical standards and who has no excuse for breaking the law, be treated any better in this regard.”

Jackson, however, denied requests for a full two-year sentence because having an extramarital affair, having contacts with reporters and even giving nonpublic information to reporters were not crimes, the judge said.

“Mr. Wolfe’s reporter contacts, the previous activities, were certainly potentially harmful and entirely inappropriate but those acts themselves were not criminal,” Jackson said, per BuzzFeed. “And in this court’s view, the risks associated with that conduct should not drive the sentence that is supposed to be imposed in this case, and especially not to the degree that the government suggests.”

Wolfe apologized for his conduct after the sentencing.

“Your honor, I am so sorry, I am beyond embarrassed, I am beyond humiliated, I am beyond mortified,” Wolfe said. “Those actions and my false denials were critical lapses in judgment and a personal failure on my part. It is because of what have done, no one else, that I am before this court today. I have acknowledged what I have done, broken the rules of the committee, and then lied about it.”

Wolfe served as director of security for the Intelligence committee, which gave him access to classified documents.


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