News & Politics

Senate Intel Staffer James Wolfe Sentenced to Two Months in Jail for Lying to the FBI

Former Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staffer James Wolfe arrives at the federal courthouse, Monday, July 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The first Deep State #RussiaGate conspirator was sentenced in federal court Thursday to two months in prison.

James Wolfe, the former director of security for the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (SSCI), is going to jail for lying about his relationships with reporters to FBI agents investigating leaks of classified information, the Washington Times reported.

U.S. District Judge Ketanji B. Jackson told Wolfe that he should have understood the “value of truthfulness in a national security investigation,” given his experience in the government.

Wolfe had used encrypted messaging apps to provide non-public information to two reporters about Senate Intelligence matters, according to the indictment. One of those reporters was 20-something Ali Watkins, with whom he’d had a 3-year relationship.

While addressing the court Wolfe was overcome with emotion, his sentences broken up by bouts of crying. He said his extramarital affair with a reporter “humiliated my wife, myself and my family.”

“It was a significant lapse of judgment and a personal failure on my part,” he told the court.

Prosecutors wanted two years in prison for Wolfe, but Judge Jackson told the court that two years would have been “a significant departure upwards from sentence guidelines.” Prosecutors argued that “a stronger sentence was warranted because of the severity of his Wolfe’s lies.”

Curiously, he was not charged with leaking classified information, but prosecutors noted that Wolfe’s lies caused “significant disruption” and “significantly endangered the national security.”

According to the indictment, Wolfe provided classified information to Watkins about long-suffering former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page for a March 17, 2017, BuzzFeed article.

The article revealed that Page was interviewed by the FBI as a witness in a 2013 investigation of a Russian spy ring operating in New York. Page’s identity was masked — he was identified as “Male-1” — in the court papers for the case. The government claimed that Russian agents met with Page, possibly as an attempt to cultivate him as a source.

Page was not accused of wrongdoing in that investigation and gave a voluntary interview with the FBI for the case. But Watkins’ report has widely been cited as evidence of Page’s close ties to Russia. Page is accused in the infamous Steele dossier of being the Trump campaign’s conduit to the Kremlin for purposes of collusion. He has vehemently denied the allegations.

Wolfe’s attorney’s argued that their client should not have to serve anytime behind bars because “he deeply regretted his actions.”

Preston Burton, Wolfe’s attorney, pointed out that his client still had support form some of the high-ranking officials in the government.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) and former Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wrote a letter earlier this month to the judge urging leniency for Wolfe.

“These people know he pleaded guilty and knowing that, they still support him,” Mr. Burton said.

“Jim has already lost so much through these invents, include his career and reputation, and we do not believe there is any public utility in depriving him of his freedom,” the letter said.

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who famously got caught lying to Congress, also wrote a letter of support.

Wolfe had been responsible for managing and transporting all classified materials to the committee, which has spent nearly two years investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. He even escorted witnesses who testified before the committee in connection to the Russia probe until he was placed on leave in December.

He officially retired in May.

Watkins has admitted to the relationship but denied Wolfe was her source. According to the New York Times, she disclosed to her previous employers, BuzzFeed and Politico, that she was in the relationship, which reportedly ended before she joined the New York Times.

But the indictment appears to contradict that claim. In one text message, Wolfe told her that he “always tried to give you as much information that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could that scoop before anyone else.”

Wolfe was arrested in June of 2018 for lying to the FBI, and pleaded guilty to a single charge of knowingly making a false statement to investigators in October. He was sentenced to jail on December 20, his 58th birthday.