- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 10, 2018

Former Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page has been pursued by Christopher Steele and his dossier, the FBI, Democrats and Russia collusion-minded media.

He has proclaimed his innocence throughout the two-year inquisition.

Last week, he learned he had another adversary, this one hidden.

A federal indictment showed that James A. Wolfe, director of security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was leaking secret anti-Page information to the press. His favorite recipient was reporter Ali Watkins, who quickly rose through the Washington journalism thicket from college intern to New York Times reporter at age 26.

The indictment against Mr. Wolfe, 57, said he had a romantic relationship with Ms. Watkins from December 2013, when she was an intern, to December 2017. Two plot twists that month: She won a job at The New York Times, and the FBI confronted Mr. Wolfe. The indictment charges him with three counts of lying when he denied leaking to reporters.

Conservatives complain the Watkins-Wolfe scandal is another example of Washington’s “deep state” media alliance trying to sabotage President Trump. New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin called one of Ms. Watkin’s stories “Part of the orgy of leaks targeting President Trump.”

On reports that employer BuzzFeed and Politico knew she was sleeping with her source, Mr. Goodwin said: “The admission is shocking yet not surprising, given the collapse of journalistic standards in the age of Trump. Pure hatred of this president in newsrooms across America is blinding editors and reporters to basic fairness and glaring conflicts of interest.”

Breitbart has taken to calling Mr. Wolfe a “deep state leaker.”

Activist lawyer Robert Barnes tweeted: “The Senate intel Committee was supposed to monitor the [intelligence community] not be an extension of IC.”

The indictment likely contained just a sampling of Mr. Wolfe’s supposed leaking. It said he and Ms. Watkins exchanged tens of thousands of phone calls and electronic messages. They met in office stairwells, restaurants and her apartment.

It seems Mr. Wolfe had a particular interest in embarrassing Mr. Page. The indictment builds a case that Mr. Wolfe, after receiving classified documents labeled “secret” on Mr. Page unwittingly meeting with a Russian spy in 2013, provided the intelligence to Ms. Watkins. She wrote the story for BuzzFeed on April 3, 2017. Months later, The New York Times cited the scoop as one of the reasons it hired Ms. Watkins.

The indictment alleges Mr. Wolfe also leaked Mr. Page’s scheduled appearances before the committee and a story that Mr. Page planned to invoke the Fifth Amendment instead of testifying. Mr. Page says that story was false.

“It had long been a mystery to me how MSNBC always miraculously knew about/was well staked-out for my Hart Senate Office Building visits, despite by best effort attempts to stay undercover,” Mr. Page tweeted Friday. “I guess all these things are now becoming more understandable.”

After the April 3 BuzzFeed story, Mr. Page sent a letter to Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, and Vice Chairman Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat.

“I am increasingly coming to understand that these proceedings have thus far followed the precedent of prior show trials,” he wrote.

The letter said that it is a felony for someone to leak his name as the person who was approached by spy Victor Podobnyy in New York in 2013. (No charges were filed against Mr. Page, an energy investor who lived in Moscow. He believed Mr. Podobnyy to be who he said he was: a Russian diplomat posted at the United Nations.)

Being a target in the Russia collusion probe is not new to Mr. Page. The Christopher Steele dossier, financed by the Democratic Party, accused him of several felonies. He supposedly met with two highly placed Kremlin figures in July 2016 in Moscow to discuss bribes for sanctions relief. Mr. Steele, a British ex-spy committed to destroying the Trump campaign, said Mr. Page and campaign manager Paul Manafort organized the Russian interference.

Mr. Page has denied ever knowing or talking with Mr. Manafort, much less conspiring with him. He denies ever meeting with the people named by Mr. Steele.

Still, the FBI embraced the Steele dossier. The counter-intelligence division used the unverified opposition research paper to persuade a judge to issue a year’s worth of surveillance warrants on Mr. Page beginning in October 2016.

Democrats on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, led by Rep. Adam Schiff of California, also used the dossier as a weapon against Mr. Page and the Trump administration.

To date, none of Mr. Steele’s core collusion charges has been confirmed publicly.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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