Things took a serious turn in the ongoing saga of damaging leaks that have plagued the Trump administration since day one, with the indicement and arrest of James. A Wolfe, a veteran Congressional staffer who worked—ironically—as the security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee. Taken into custody yesterday, Wolfe has been charged with lying to investigators when interviewed by FBI agents about contacts he had with the media:
A former security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee -- who was in charge of maintaining all classified information from the Executive Office to the panel -- was indicted for allegedly giving false statements to FBI agents looking into possible leaks to reporters, the Justice Department announced Thursday night.
James A. Wolfe, 58, served as the panel's security director for 29 years, according to the feds.
Wolfe lied to the FBI in December 2017 about contacts he had with three reporters, the indictment read. He also allegedly lied about giving two reporters non-public information about committee matters.
If the guy in charge of maintaining Senate secrets leaking to the press isn’t juicy enough, though, it gets even better. As it turns out, Wolfe did it for the oldest of reasons:
Earlier Thursday, 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.
First there was Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, now we have Jim Wolfe and Ali Watkins. Find one more couple to round out these two, and you’d have the makings for a pretty good reboot of Friends—but instead of gathering at Central Perk to sip coffee and complain about their love lives, they could swap stories about their latest scheme to #Resist Donald Trump.
Although Wolfe and Watkins weren’t quite as prolific as Strzok and Page with their electronic communications, the Sex and the Senate staffer made up for it with some pretty purple prose. One particular message highlighted in the indictment pretty much says it all:
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 (sic) that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else. ... I always enjoyed the way that you would pursue a story,like nobody else was doing in my hal1way (sic). I felt like I was part of your excitement and was always very supportive of your career and the tenacity that you exhibited to chase down a good story.
It must be very lonely being a trusted minion of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body. Then again, Watkins does kind of have that whole hot librarian thing going on, so he may have just found temptation—unlike Trump—impossible to resist.
Wolfe and Watkins: D.C. Power Couple
Here’s the real kicker of the story, though. You would think that sleeping with a source would be considered unethical behavior for a reporter, and that Watkins would have taken great pains to cover it up for fear of making herself radioactive to potential employers. But you would be mistaken:
The Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed source, reported that Watkins disclosed the relationship when she joined the Times.
So the New York Times hired Watkins knowing full well that she had a romantic relationship with a man employed by the United States Senate in a highly sensitive position, and who made unauthorized disclosures to her in the course of that relationship, but didn’t view that as an instant disqualifier? My, how things have changed since I was in J-school.
It does, however, really make a person wonder just how much this sort of thing goes on behind the scenes in sudsy DC. Ooh la la!