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U.S. Senate Staffer Arrested in Leak Case After NYT Reporter’s Phone Records Were Seized

James Wolfe, left, is seen with Jared Kushner after a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meeting on July 24, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

James Wolfe, left, is seen with Jared Kushner after a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence meeting on July 24, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A longtime US Senate staffer was arrested late Thursday on charges of lying to federal agents as part of an investigation related to unauthorized disclosure of information, according to a federal indictment.

Federal prosecutors accuse James Wolfe, the former security director for the Senate Intelligence Committee, of lying to FBI agents in December 2017 about his contacts with three reporters, including through his use of encrypted messaging applications. According to the indictment, Wolfe made false statements to the FBI about providing two reporters with non-public information related to the matters occurring before the committee.

The identity of the committee aide had been previously undisclosed until late Wednesday, but the Senate had quietly passed a resolution Wednesday evening authorizing lawmakers to provide the Justice Department with documents in connection to the investigation.

Wolfe worked under leadership of both parties since 1987, before he abruptly departed the panel at the end of 2017.

Reached Wednesday by CNN’s Manu Raju, Wolfe denied being contacted by the DOJ or FBI.

“I have no knowledge,” Wolfe said, when asked about a Justice Department investigation.

The New York Times reported Wednesday evening that one of its reporters, Ali Watkins, had been contacted by federal investigators about the inquiry into Wolfe and a prosecutor notified her that her email and phone records — but not the content of her communications — were obtained.

In response to an inquiry from CNN, her lawyer Mark J. MacDougall said, “It’s always disconcerting when a journalist’s telephone records are obtained by the Justice Department — through a grand jury subpoena or other legal process.”

“Whether it was really necessary here will depend on the nature of the investigation and the scope of any charges,” MacDougall added.