A yearslong investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general revealed that quite a few FBI workers had “substantial” media contacts prior to the 2016 presidential election, nevertheless it couldn’t decide who leaked delicate info to reporters.
The 10-page report issued Thursday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz mentioned that whereas FBI insurance policies strictly restrict the staff who’re licensed to converse to the media, these guidelines “appeared to be extensively ignored” in 2016.
The new findings broaden upon the investigative work included in a June 2018 report entitled the “Review of Allegations Regarding Various Actions by the Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Advance of the 2016 Election (2016 pre-election report).”
The IG report reads in half: “Among the problems we reviewed in that report had been allegations that FBI workers improperly disclosed private info regarding the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal electronic mail server. The FBI has a strict coverage that limits the variety of workers who’re licensed to converse with the media, and requires approval for any others.
“We recognized quite a few FBI workers, in any respect ranges of the group and with no official motive to be in contact with the media, who had been nonetheless in frequent contact with reporters,” it continues.
The IG acknowledged that it “decided this info from reviewing FBI information and thru forensic examination of FBI digital gadgets,” together with textual content message communications and cellphone information that didn’t replicate the “substance” of communication. However, the IG didn’t search a court docket order to compel service suppliers to produce private electronic mail communications.
“The massive variety of FBI workers who had been in contact with journalists throughout this time interval impacted our means to identify the sources of leaks. For instance, throughout the intervals we reviewed, we recognized dozens of FBI workers that had contact with members of the media.”
The report mentioned its means to identify the leakers was additionally hampered by that the truth that in some situations, greater than 100 workers had entry to the delicate info that was leaked.
The report detailed three senior officers who had quite a few unauthorized contact with media between January and November 2916, together with unauthorized social engagements, comparable to drinks and dinners, which violated FBI coverage. In addition, the IG referred six workers at FBI headquarters to the FBI for it to decide whether or not their media contacts warrant disciplinary or different corrective motion.
The IG report additionally discovered no proof FBI personnel leaked any delicate info to Rudy Giuliani concerning the Hillary Clinton electronic mail server investigation.
Giuliani claimed days earlier than the 2016 election that Trump had some “fairly huge surprises” he was ready to reveal. Two days after that assertion then-FBI Director James Comey introduced the bureau was reopening its Clinton electronic mail probe.
The IG’s workplace confirmed they spoke straight with Giuliani, saying in the report: “As a results of the content material and timing of those public statements by Giuliani suggesting that present or former FBI personnel could have supplied private investigative info to him, the OIG contacted Giuliani, who agreed to seem for a voluntary interview.”
Giuliani instructed the IG: “[Director] Comey’s statements had been a shock to me. I had no foreknowledge of any of them.”
The report continues, “He additionally mentioned he had not been in contact with any lively FBI brokers in October 2016, and acknowledged that he had solely spoken with former brokers who didn’t have any direct or oblique data of FBI investigations in October 2016, and that the extent of his conversations with former brokers was “gossip” about Comey’s decision-making in 2016.”
Since the 2016 pre-election report, the IG states that the FBI has taken steps to enhance the FBI’s procedures and “cultural perspective” and “disciplinary penalties” regarding unauthorized contacts with the media.
Fox News’ Kelly Laco contributed to this report.