Senate Intel Staffer Indicted In Leak Case Was Charged With Domestic Violence

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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  • James Wolfe was accused of domestic violence in 2003 and 2004.
  • He worked on the Senate Intelligence Committee until December.
  • He was indicted Thursday for lying to the FBI about contacts with reporters.

The former Senate Intelligence Committee staffer indicted for lying to the FBI about his leaks to the media was charged in 2004 with domestic violence, court documents show.

James A. Wolfe, 57, was charged on June 25, 2004 in a Maryland domestic violence case involving his wife. Maryland court records also show that Wolfe is listed in a June 2003 case that resulted in a protective order being placed against him.

Wolfe was also a defendant in a 2006 civil claim from Tower Federal Credit Union. Maryland court documents show list the U.S. Senate Hart office building as Wolfe’s mailing address.

The 29-year Senate veteran’s criminal history raises numerous questions about his Senate work, which allowed him access to Top Secret information.

A spokesperson for the Senate Intelligence panel acknowledged that Wolfe was charged in the case but said that the FBI likely investigated the allegations.

“The charges referenced were dropped in 2004,” the spokesperson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Security clearances are reviewed approximately every five years. Mr. Wolfe’s clearance was reissued in August 2008. We cannot speak for the committee’s leadership at the time, but they likely would have been aware and the incident would have been looked at as part of the subsequent review by the FBI.”

Wolfe was arrested on Thursday and charged with three counts of lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters. While working as director of security at the Senate Intel Committee, the 29-year Senate veteran had a four-year romantic relationship with Ali Watkins, a reporter who published an article that appears based on information from Wolfe.

The new indictment against Wolfe notes that he was in contact with Watkins when she published an April 3, 2017 article identifying former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as a witness in an investigation into a Russian spy ring. (RELATED: Senate Intel Staffer Targeted Trump Aide In Aggressive Leak Campaign)

In one message cited in the indictment, Wolfe told Watkins that he “always tried to give you as much information that I could and to do the right thing with it so you could get that scoop before anyone else.”

Wolfe was also a source for reporters at other news outlets, including on a story about a subpoena issued by the Senate panel against Page.

Wolfe’s criminal history raises questions about his role working with highly classified government information. According to the indictment, Wolfe had access to Secret and Top Secret information. Part of his job was handling sensitive documents that involved committee business and arranging interviews with committee witnesses. (RELATED: DOJ Seized NYT’s Reporters Phone, Email Records In Leak Investigation)

The indictment says that Wolfe handled the classified Carter Page court documents on behalf of the committee.

Wolfe, who was arrested on Thursday, initially denied to the FBI in a Dec. 15, 2017 interview that knew the reporters he was asked about and that he leaked information to them. But the indictment refers to evidence that shows that Wolfe gave information to the journalists.

Wolfe also made denials about being a leaker to at least one committee witness.

Charles Johnson, a conservative activist, says that he had a confrontation with Wolfe in Oct. 2017 in which the staffer denied leaking information to the press.

“I read the stuff that’s in the papers and there are things that are leaked out of the committee,” Johnson said in the phone recording, which he provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“There are no leaks coming out of this committee,” Wolfe is heard saying.

“I do not trust the committee’s capability of keeping information secure, and I do not feel comfortable given the committee’s history of leaking material out into the public,” Johnson said at one point.

“That’s just not true,” Wolfe replied.

Johnson says that he recorded his conversations with Wolfe because he had a suspicion that the staffer was leaking information to the media.

“I purposely recorded the phone call because I knew that Wolfe and the commitee were leaking and I knew that I would catch them in a leak,” Johnson told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

In the phone conversation, audio of which Johnson gave TheDCNF, Johnson battles with Wolfe over a committee request for documents related to Peter Smith, a longtime GOP operative who attempted to track down Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails during the campaign.

Smith, who committed suicide last year, worked with Johnson to find the emails, which he believed were on the so-called Dark Web.

Johnson, who has denied any wrongdoing in his relationship with Smith, said that he believed that Wolfe and the committee was setting him up for a “perjury trap.”

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