A Border Patrol agent who last year used the confidential travel records of a Washington reporter to press her about her sources is under investigation for misuse of government computer systems, The New York Times reported.
Jeffrey Rambo was temporarily assigned to the National Targeting Center in Sterling, Virginia — operated by Customs and Border Protection and used to store data on the travel of millions of Americans and foreigners — when he asked to meet with then-Politico reporter Ali Watkins on June 1, 2017, the Times reported.
Watkins is currently a reporter for the Times.
According to the Times, Rambo told Watkins he worked for the government but would not give his name or agency. Then, during a meeting at a bar near Dupont Circle in Washington, Rambo claimed to be helping the FBI with investigations into leaks of sensitive material to journalists, the Times reported.
He also revealed he knew the details of a trip to Spain that Watkins had taken with her then-boyfriend, James Wolfe, security director of the Senate Intelligence Committee — hinting he might disclose that relationship to The Washington Post, pressing her to become his informant about other reporters and their sources, the Times reported.
Watkins refused; she found out his name the next day off a credit card receipt, the Times reported.
According to the Times, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general and investigators from the border agency are now examining whether Rambo used the travel data improperly or illegally — and whether anyone else was involved.
The episode came to light last month after Wolfe was arrested and accused of lying to FBI leak investigators about his contacts with Watkins and other reporters. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to the Times, Wolfe’s arrest also revealed Watkins’ email and phone records had been secretly taken by the Trump administration as part of the leak inquiry.
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