Jeffrey A. Rambo, a Customs and Border Protection agent, is being investigated for confronting a reporter covering national security issues about her confidential sources. Rambo’s actions are being examined by the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.
According to the Washington Post, Rambo, contacted journalist Ali Watkins last June after the Trump administration started its investigations of unauthorized leaks to reporters. Rambo met with Watkins at a restaurant in Washington after initially contacting her by email.
However, after Rambo arrived, he said the administration was “eager to investigate journalists and learn the identity of their confidential sources to stanch leaks of classified information,” the Washington Post reported. He questioned Watkins about her reporting and how she received her information, according to the people familiar with the incident.
Rambo is now under investigation for “unorthodox behavior,” according to the Washington Post. “It’s highly unusual for government investigators to question reporters about their sources, and national security leaks are generally investigated by the FBI, not CBP.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Rambo is Being Investigated by U.S. Customs & Border Protection Officials for Employee Misconduct
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials referred Rambo’s actions to internal compliance investigators after his alleged meeting with Watkins and questioned her about her relationship with Senate Intelligence Committee staffer James Wolfe, despite not being on the investigation, CNN reports.
“CBP takes all allegations of employee misconduct seriously. The allegation has been immediately referred to CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility. We encourage all members of the public to report any potential misconduct immediately so that it may be investigated,” a CBP spokesman told CNN.
2. Rambo Left Watkins “Rattled” After Questioning Her Extensively About Her Sources
According to The Post’s report, while at the meeting Rambo asked Watkins about her reporting methods and sources, and knew intimate details, including dates and locations, of trips that she had taken with Wolfe previously, who at the time was the director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee.
The information “left Watkins rattled,” The Post reported, according to a person familiar with the events.
3. Rambo is Accused of Searching Private Travel Records to Find the Information He Presented Watkins
The Washington Post reports that Rambo was not part of the FBI’s investigation of Wolfe, according to an anonymous law enforcement official.
Rambo’s search of travel records could be considered a crime if he didn’t have a legitimate reason to examine the information. Travel records are protected by privacy laws and regulations that prevent unauthorized disclosures of personal information, officials said.
“As a DHS employee, Rambo could have had access to records of when Americans leave and reenter the United States, including from the Advance Passenger Information System, first developed by U.S. customs officials in the 1980s,” according to the Washington Post.
4. Rambo Allegedly Tried to Enlist Watkin’s to Help Him Crack Down on Leaks
Customs and Border Protection agent Jeffrey Rambo (if that really is his name) faces inquiry after …read more