The committee’s staff follows strict rules for the handling of delicate, and often classified, information for one of the most tightly secured committees in Congress. Mr. Wolfe would have been responsible for enforcing those rules. The committee is also conducting its own investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign. As part of that, the committee has reviewed reams of classified materials related to the election meddling and met with current and former Trump aides.
The investigation of Mr. Wolfe came to light this week after the committee said that it was cooperating with the Justice Department “in a pending investigation arising out of the unauthorized disclosure of information.”
“Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy,” said Eileen Murphy, a Times spokeswoman. “This decision by the Justice Department will endanger reporters’ ability to promise confidentiality to their sources and, ultimately, undermine the ability of a free press to shine a much-needed light on government actions. That should be a grave concern to anyone who cares about an informed citizenry.”
Obtaining information a reporter’s records is considered an “extraordinary” measure that must be approved by top Justice Department officials, according to the guidelines for federal prosecutors. Per federal statute, agents must make “all reasonable attempts to obtain the information from alternative, non-media sources.”
A Justice Department official who spoke on background because the matter pertains to an ongoing criminal investigation said that all regulations were followed.
The Trump administration has been troubled by a flood of embarrassing leaks, and the president has pushed law enforcement officials to seek criminal charges against government officials who make unauthorized disclosures to the news media.