James Wolfe, a former staffer on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was sentenced to two months in prison on Thursday for lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters.
The sentence is substantially lower than the two years federal prosecutors were seeking.
Prosecutors argued in a court filing last week that Wolfe “significantly disrupted a government function and significantly endangered national security” by lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters.
Wolfe, who was director of security for the Senate panel, was initially questioned as part of an investigation into a leak to The Washington Post regarding FBI surveillance warrants against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
The Post reported on April 11, 2017 that the FBI obtained at least one Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against Page.
Investigators quickly identified Wolfe as one of the government officials who had access to FISA documents.
As director of security, Wolfe handled sensitive documents relative to the Senate committee’s business.
As part of the investigation, the FBI obtained Wolfe’s phone records and physically inspected his phone in October 2017 while he was in a meeting.
FBI agents interviewed Wolfe for the first time on Dec. 15, 2017. During that interview, Wolfe repeatedly denied having contacts with four separate reporters, including one of the reporters who wrote The Post piece.
He was indicted on June 8 and pleaded guilty in the case on Oct. 15.
Wolfe also denied having contact with former BuzzFeed reporter Ali Watkins, even though the pair had been in a romantic relationship for years.
Wolfe was not charged with leaking classified or sensitive information, merely with lying to the FBI about his reporter contacts.
Information provided by the government suggests that The Washington Post reporter who Wolfe had contact with is Ellen Nakashima, a veteran national security reporter.
Wolfe denied leaking information about the Page FISA to The Post, and prosecutors said they found no evidence that he did.
Investigators also raised the prospect that Wolfe was a source for Watkins’ report on April 2, 2017 in which Page was identified as “Male-1” in court filings against a suspected Russian spy ring. Page was not accused of wrongdoing in the case, but Watkins’ report fed into the narrative that Page was working with the Russian government.
Wolfe’s text messaged did show that he tipped off an NBC reporter on Oct. 17, 2017 that Page had been subpoenaed by Senate Intel. In text messages with the reporter, Wolfe referred to Page as an “a–hole.”
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