A New York Times reporter had years worth of phone and email records seized by the Trump administration’s Justice Department, the paper reported Thursday evening.
Ali Watkins learned Feb. 13 from federal prosecutors about the seizure of data related to two email accounts and a phone number— though not the messages content — from telecommunications companies, including Verizon and Google.
The seizure of Ms. Watkins’ records grew out of a leak investigation against James A. Wolfe, the Senate Intelligence Committee’s former director of security, with whom Ms. Watkins was romantically involved.
Mr. Wolfe was arrested Thursday on charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with reporters.
According to the Times, the seizure of her records is the first known instance of Trump administration investigators going after a reporter’s data, although the Obama administration normalized the practice in its aggressive investigations of leaks.
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy, and communications between journalists and their sources demand protection,” said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman.
SEE ALSO: James A. Wolfe, ex-Senate intelligence committee staffer, indicted for lying to FBI: Report
Ms. Watkins told the Times she did not use Mr. Wolfe as a source. He had no comment to the newspaper.
“The records covered years’ worth of Ms. Watkins’s communications before she joined The Times in late 2017 to cover federal law enforcement. During a seven-month period last year for which prosecutors sought additional phone records, she worked for Buzzfeed News and then Politico reporting on national security,” the Times wrote.
• Victor Morton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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