The Justice Department had a reporter’s emails and phone records seized amid an investigation into who is leaking information from the White House to the media.
The New York Times said Thursday that their reporter Ali Watkins — who had previously covered national security for Politico and BuzzFeed — received a letter from the US Attorney’s Office in Washington, DC, in February that notified her of the legal action.
A spokesperson for the newspaper said that these type of communications should be protected by the First Amendment,
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and communications between journalists and their sources demand protection,” Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said.
The information came to light as it was announced that James A. Wolfe, a former employee of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was arrested on charges of making false statements to the FBI amid a probe into the disclosure of classified information.
Watkins reportedly had a relationship with Wolfe but claims he was not a source of information.
The indictment against Wolfe says that text messages were apparently sent between Wolfe and Watkins before publishing of a 2017 BuzzFeed story about Carter Page meeting with a Russian spy.
The indictment also states the Wolfe and a “reporter” has a 7-minute phone conversation after the article was published.
The move by the Justice Department comes after President Trump complained for months about the constant leaks coming out of the West Wing.
“The so-called leaks coming out of the White House are a massive over exaggeration put out by the Fake News Media in order to make us look as bad as possible,” Trump tweeted on May 15.
“With that being said, leakers are traitors and cowards, and we will find out who they are!”
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