The aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee who was indicted in June for lying to the FBI as part of a leak investigation appears to have leaked the entire secret court application used to spy on Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page.
Dates, page counts, classification markings, and the resulting media report by the reporter who received the leak suggest that James Wolfe, the director of security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, leaked Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) documents to a young female reporter with whom he was engaged in an extramarital affair.
On March 17 last year, LeeAnn Flynn Hall, a clerk for the FISC, certified a copy of the application and warrant to surveil Page which contained “secret” and “top secret” markings on every page, according to the recently declassified FISC applications and warrants (pdf).
Also, that same day, the Senate Intelligence Committee received “a specific classified document” which contained “secret and top secret information” including the identity of a person referred to as MALE-1, according to Wolfe’s indictment (pdf). The Epoch Times previously reported that MALE-1 refers to Page.
As Director of Security, Wolfe was charged with handling all classified documents transported to the committee.
Again on March 17, the prosecutors in Wolfe’s case say that “Wolfe exchanged 82 text messages” with the female reporter, Ali Watkins. The FISA application was 83 pages long, with two pages left almost entirely blank, suggesting that Wolfe likely sent Watkins the FISA application page by page via text messages.
More than two weeks later, on April 3, Buzzfeed published an article with Watkins’s byline revealing Page’s identity.
The FBI interviewed Wolfe in December 2017 and caught him in an alleged lie as part of an investigation into leaks.
Wolfe’s case is part of a broader effort by the Department of Justice to catch leakers. By August 2017, the Justice Department and the FBI had tripled the number of active leak investigations, according to a statement at the time by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The sheer volume of cases led to the creation of a special unit at the FBI tasked with investigating and deterring leaks.
In discussing the effort to prevent leaks on Aug. 4, 2017, Sessions named Congress as one of the sources of leaks.
”These National Security breaches do not just originate from within the Intelligence Community,” Sessions said. “They come from a wide range of sources within the government, including the Congress.”
The Trump administration was inundated with leaks during the transition and the first months of 2017. Between the inauguration and May 25, 2017, the Trump administration was subject to 125 leaks that could endanger national security, according to a report by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The rate of potentially harmful leaks was seven times higher compared to the first months of the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations, the report found.
In March this year, Sessions fired then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for authorizing a self-serving leak to the media and lying about to investigators, including under oath.
In April, nearly a dozen House lawmakers sent a criminal referral for former FBI Director James Comey for allegedly leaking classified information as part of the memos he sent to his friend. Comey has said that he drafted the memos hoping to trigger the appointment of a special counsel.
In June, a report by the Justice Department Inspector General revealed that dozens of FBI employees, including senior executives, were in contact with the media without the authorization to do so. The report also found that the FBI employees received gifts and other benefits from the press.