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A former Senate intelligence committee aide was arrested Thursday on charges of lying to FBI agents during an investigation into whether he leaked classified information to reporters.

Podobnyy, who was later charged by the US government for his undercover spying, described Page as "an idiot" who provided him with documents on the USA energy business, according to a phone call transcript included in the USA court filing viewed by Buzzfeed. Wolfe was arrested on Thursday, according to DoJ.

As part of the probe, the Justice Department seized years of records related to two email accounts and a phone number belonging to New York Times reporter Ali Watkins, the newspaper reported. Watkins and Wolfe were once in a romantic relationship.

"[He] maintained that he had never disclosed to REPORTER #2 classified information or information that he learned as Director of Security for the (Committee) that was not otherwise publicly available", the indictment said. It says Wolfe had actually been in regular contact with several reporters, that he had used encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, Signal to keep in touch with these reporters, and that he had provided them with information that he had obtained as his job as head of security for the committee. While the info obtained may have been necessary to prove Wolfe lied to investigators, it does seem like a serious breach first amendment boundaries for nothing but vanilla "lied to the feds" charges. He kept his hands behind his back but was not handcuffed. He did not enter a plea. "They bring cases where the law is unsettled but do so when they think other factors will influence judges and the public". Wolfe was represented Friday by public defender Christian Lassiter.

After Friday's hearing, Wolfe is on release, with conditions. Wolfe must also check in weekly with pretrial services.

Wolfe could not be reached for comment after the hearing.

President Donald Trump said on Friday that the former Senate aide indicted on Thursday by a federal prosecutor in Washington was "a very important leaker".

"Wolfe informed the journalist that the witness would appear privately before the committee that week, prompting the witness to complain to the committee that details of his appearance had been leaked, according to the indictment". It was not clear why investigators chose to take the extraordinary step of obtaining Watkins's phone and email records and what other avenues they had pursued. The Obama administration's ruthless efforts to track down and prosecute leakers (or at least those who leaked without the administration's approval) got significant media coverage during his administration.

His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, ducked questions early on about whether he would ever agree to subpoena a reporter in a leak investigation.

New Justice Department guidelines were agreed upon after collaborative discussions between the department and members of the press. "The allegations in this indictment are doubly troubling as the false statements concern the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and confidential information", Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department's top national security official, said in a statement.

A congressional source said the Senate panel was not aware that the Justice Department had seized a reporter's records when it passed a resolution Wednesday to provide DOJ with documents tied to the investigation.

The last 24 hours have brought a wave of revelations about how key pieces of information from the Senate's Russian Federation investigation were made public, as well as the Trump era's first indictment involving leaks to the press.

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Vice ChairMark Warner, D-Va., issued a joint statement saying they "have fully cooperated" with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice and that the committee "has made certain official records available to the Justice Department", according to The Hill.

Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson and Associated Press reporters Chad Day and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this article.


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