Senate Aide Accused of Lying to F.B.I. Pleads Not Guilty

WASHINGTON — A former top staff member of the Senate Intelligence Committee pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges of lying to the F.B.I. about his contacts with reporters, in addition to also his defense lawyer accused the Justice Department in addition to also President Trump of doing inappropriate comments about the case which could poison the jury pool.

The former staff member, James A. Wolfe, appeared before a magistrate judge at the federal courthouse blocks through the Senate office building where he used to work. Mr. Wolfe was indicted last week on three counts of lying to F.B.I. agents working on a leak investigation, although has not been charged with unlawfully disclosing classified information.

At the hearing, prosecutors told Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson which they had no objections to letting him remain free for currently without posting a bond, although asked for several conditions, including restricting his travel. Mr. Wolfe had surrendered his passport after he made an initial appearance This particular week at a courthouse in Maryland.

Mr. Wolfe showed no emotion as he sat from the courtroom, occasionally rising to briefly address Judge Robinson. He left most of the speaking to one of his defense lawyers, Preston Burton, who entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

Mr. Burton also sharply criticized government officials — including Mr. Trump — for doing statements which he suggested impugned his client’s character by implying which Mr. Wolfe had illegally leaked national security secrets.

Two of the three charges against Mr. Wolfe related to allegations which he told reporters nonpublic information which he had learned as a result of his role as a staff member of the Intelligence Committee. although none of the false statement charges accuse Mr. Wolfe of leaking classified information.

Mr. Burton pointed to a Justice Department news Discharge about the case, which framed Mr. Wolfe’s purported false statements as arising in “the course of an investigation into the unlawful disclosure of classified information.” He also criticized as “glib” comments made by Mr. Trump on Friday when the president spoke to reporters about the case.

Mr. Trump had said the arrest of Mr. Wolfe “could be a terrific thing,” in addition to also stressed which “you cannot leak classified information.”

After the hearing on Wednesday, Mr. Burton told reporters which the defense was likely to file a motion seeking a court order “prohibiting the government at all levels, including President Trump, through doing improper in addition to also prejudicial statements regarding This particular case.”

The indictment described Mr. Wolfe’s interactions with several unnamed reporters. One of them can be Ali Watkins, who covered the Senate Intelligence Committee for several news outlets, including BuzzFeed News in addition to also Politico, before joining The brand new York Times in December. Ms. Watkins in addition to also Mr. Wolfe had an extended personal relationship which ended last year, in addition to also in February, the Justice Department informed her which which had seized records about her phone calls in addition to also emails.

Also on Thursday, two Democratic lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Mr. Trump’s first in addition to also second secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security, John F. Kelly in addition to also Kirstjen Nielsen, about an apparent Customs in addition to also Border Protection agent, Jeffrey A. Rambo, who approached Ms. Watkins last June.

Mr. Rambo asked Ms. Watkins about her relationship with Mr. Wolfe, according to a report This particular week from the Washington Post, in addition to also revealed which he knew about their travel abroad together. According to the newspaper, Mr. Rambo sought to enlist Ms. Watkins in revealing leakers of classified information; which was unclear whether he was working alone or as part of a larger effort.

from the letter, the lawmakers, Representatives Jerrold Nadler of brand new York in addition to also Jamie Raskin of Maryland, asked Mr. Kelly in addition to also Ms. Nielsen whether they or any various other official had authorized Mr. Rambo to approach Ms. Watkins. The lawmakers also asked when the Trump administration officials first learned about the episode, in addition to also whether Mr. Rambo or any various other Customs in addition to also Border Protection employee had similarly approached any various other reporters.