Justice Department seizure of reporter’s records jolts free press

In a sudden reversal of policy, the Justice Department seized the phone and e-mail records of a New York Times reporter continuing an aggressive stance begun under the Obama administration. Prosecutors seized Ali Watkins’ records as part of an investigation of a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide, James A. Wolfe, arrested for lying to investigators in an investigation of the leak of classified documents. (The New York Times, June 10, 2018, by Michael M. Grynbaum)

Watkins and Wolfe were in a romantic relationship during the time that Wolfe leaked information including the identity of Trump campaign staffer Carter Page as a target of Russian agents in 2013. (Ars Technica, June 8, 2018, by Sean Gallagher)

In September of 2017 Watkins damaged her credibility by tweeting that the Senate Intelligence Committee thought Trump lawyers were leaking information. The New York Times condemned the seizing of Watkins’ records as endangering the ability of reporters to report on government affairs, a blow to free press checks on Congress and the president. (Fox News, June 8, 2018, by Alex Pappas)

For prior FAC coverage of the issue, click here.