James Wolfe sentenced to two months in prison for lying to FBI
A federal judge on Thursday sentenced James Wolfe, the former director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee, to two months in prison for lying about his relationships with reporters to FBI agents investigating the leak of classified information.
U. S. District Judge Kentanji B. Jackson told Mr. Wolfe that given his position in the government he should have understood the “value of truthfulness in a national security investigation.”
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 had requested two years in prison for Wolfe, who was sentenced on his 58th birthday.
Two years would have represented a significant departure upwards from sentence guidelines, Judge Jackson told the court. But prosecutors said a stronger sentence was warranted because of the severity of his Wolfe’s lies.
Wolfe pleaded guilty in October to a single charge of knowingly making a false statements investigators. He was not charged with leaking classified information, but prosecutors said in a court filing last week Wolfe’s lies caused “significant disruption” and “significantly endangered the national security.”
Attorneys for Wolfe argued their client should not have to serve anytime behind bars, saying he deeply regretted his actions.
Preston Burton, Wolfe’s attorney, told Judge Jackson his client still had support form some of the high-ranking government officials who worked with him during his 30-year Senate career.
Three U. S. Senators on the Intelligence Committee wrote a bipartisan letter in support of Wolfe.
“These people know he pleaded guilty and knowing that, they still support him,” Mr. Burton said.
The senators included Chairman Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, and Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat.
“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 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.
Federal prosecutors said he was in regular contact with four reporters who covered the committee, including a three-year romantic relationship with one reporter. That journalist was later identified in news reports as Ali Watkins.
The indictment says he exchanged tens of thousands of indictments over the next few years with Ms. Watkins, according to the indictment. The two also exchanged a number of messages on April 3, 2017, according to the indictment. That day Ms. Watkins, who was then at BuzzFeed, wrote a story saying former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had met with a Russian spy in 2013.
Ms. Watkins admitted to the relationship but denied Wolfe was her source, according to a New York Times article. The same article said she told her previous employers, BuzzFeed and Politico, about the relationship, which ended before she joined The 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.”