James Wolfe, the former Senate Intelligence Committee security director charged with lying about his contacts with a series of journalists – including his former paramour, New York Times reporter Ali Watkins – appeared in court Friday after his arrest late Thursday night.
Wolfe’s indictment Thursday upset the entire understanding of how one-time Trump associate Carter Page became the focus of a media frenzy over the last 14 months. If the allegations contained in the indictment, which refers to Page merely as “MALE 1,” are true, then both Page’s 2013 contact with a Russian intelligence official and his subsequent subpoena to appear before the Senate’s probe into Russian election interference appeared in the press after Wolfe leaked classified documents he had access to by virtue of his position as security chief.
Wolfe is charged with making false statements to FBI officials both about his contact with Watkins and the other journalists and the nature of his discussions with these reporters.
A DOJ spokesman confirmed Wolfe’s arrest for the first time in a statement released Friday afternoon. Wolfe was indicted in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and will presumably face trial before a federal judge in Washington, DC, but it appears he was arrested at or near his Elliott City, Maryland home.
As the DOJ statement explains, “Because Mr. Wolfe was arrested late June 7 in Maryland, his first appearance today was in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. He appeared at the federal courthouse in Baltimore before Magistrate Judge … J. Mark Coulson.”
Federal magistrate judges do not hear cases but, among other things, they set terms of release. As a result, Wolfe did not enter a plea but was merely advised of the charges against him before being released and assigned a court date, at which he will presumably answer to the charges.
“Mr. Wolfe was released on personal recognizance under a number of conditions, including relinquishing his passport and a prohibition of travel outside of the District of Columbia and Maryland,” the DOJ statement reads. “He is next scheduled to appear at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. That hearing will be before Magistrate Judge Robin M. Meriweather.”
Wolfe’s indictment and arrest represent the first delivery on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ pledge to root out leakers in the federal government, which plagued the early Trump administration.
As a career Senate staffer, Wolfe served as the Senate’s Intelligence Committee Security Chief for 30 years and across successive administrations and partisan majorities until his retirement last year. Wolfe’s alleged collusion with the media to create stories that played unfavorably to the president and his associates represents what some have come to refer to as the “American Deep State” and its animus towards President Trump.