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Wolfe, Accused of Leaking, Pleads Not Guilty to Lying to FBI and Wants to Silence Trump
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14 Jun 2018 02:11 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer: Image: Face of FBI, Washington Field Office (Image source: Screenshot)

 

The former Senate staffer who's been accused of leaking confidential information to the press and is charged with lying to the FBI is not ready to go down silently. He's pleaded not guilty and wants to silence Trump.

Wolfe, the former security director of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was accused of lying to FBI investigators regarding his contact with journalists and sharing confidential information. He was indicted on three felony counts in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The journalists were not named initially, but reporter Ali Watkins was told by the Justice Department that her email and phone call records had been seized by the government. Additionally, she had a three-year romantic relationship with Wolfe. She's currently employed by The New York Times but previously worked for BuzzFeed News and Politico.

The Times said it is reviewing Watkins' work history, "including the nature of her relationship with Mr. Wolfe and what she disclosed about it to her prior employers."

The article in question by Watkins identified Carter Page as a target of a Russia spying operation in New York. Wolfe pleaded not guilty to the three felony counts of lying to the FBI.

Benjamin Klubes, Wolfe's attorney, said in a prepared statement that they would "vigorously defend Mr. Wolfe against this unfair and unjustified prosecution." He added that in the nearly 30 years of being involved in "the government's most precious secrets ... he never breached that trust."

A federal magistrate judge agreed to release Wolfe pending trial on conditions including prohibition against accessing or sharing classified information with unauthorized individuals and a requirement that he notify the pretrial release office if he wishes to travel outside of Washington DC, Maryland, or Northern Virginia.

Earlier this week Donald Trump commented that Wolfe was "a very important leaker" and that being arrested could be a "terrific thing." He added that he believes "strongly in freedom of the press. I'm a big, big believer in freedom of the press. But I'm also a believer in classified information. It has to remain classified."

Klubes said outside court that "there is absolutely no allegation in this case that Mr. Wolfe leaked classified information."

His legal team will now ask a federal court to prevent the president from making "improper and prejudicial" comments regarding the case. 

Another Wolfe attorney, Preston Burton, said he is concerned about the "glib remarks by the president," believing they could taint the jury pool and jeopardize his client's right to a fair trial.

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