IG: 'Senior FBI Official Received Items of Value from Members of the Media…Had Numerous Unauthorized Contacts’

By CNSNews.com Staff | July 23, 2021 | 3:34pm EDT
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) - The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released an “Investigative Summary” on Tuesday of an investigation it conducted of FBI officials having “unauthorized contacts” with members of the media during the 2016 federal election cycle.

The brief summary released this week by the IG carried the headline: “Findings of Misconduct by a Then-Senior FBI Official for Having Numerous Unauthorized Contacts with the Media, and for Accepting Unauthorized Gifts from Members of the Media.”

The IG’s summary did not name the former senior FBI official whose conduct it was discussing.

“The OIG investigation substantiated the allegation that the Senior FBI Official had numerous unauthorized contacts with the media from 2014 through 2016, in violation of FBI policy,” said the IG’s summary.

“In addition to substantive communications with reporters, this media contact included unauthorized social engagements outside of FBI Headquarters involving drinks, lunches, and dinners,” said the summary.

“The OIG also found that the Senior FBI Official violated federal regulations and FBI policy when the Senior FBI Official accepted tickets from members of the media to two black tie dinner events, one valued at $225 and the other valued at $300, and received transportation to one event from a reporter, all without prior authorization,” said the IG’s summary.

“The Senior FBI Official retired from the FBI prior to being contacted by the OIG for an interview,” it said. “When later contacted by the OIG for a voluntary interview, the Senior FBI Official declined to be interviewed.

“The OIG has the authority to compel testimony from current Department employees upon informing them that their statements will not be used to incriminate them in a criminal proceeding,” the summary explained. “The OIG does not have the authority to compel or subpoena testimony from former Department employees, including those who retire or resign during the course of an OIG investigation.”

The IG’s summary noted that the matter it was addressing in this summary was the issue that had been cited in its previous review (published in June 2018) of some FBI actions ahead of the 2016 election.

“This matter is among the OIG investigations referenced on page 430 of the OIG’s Review of Allegations Regarding Various Actions by the Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Advance of the 2016 Election,” said the summary.

The report on that review—which is 568 pages long—says in part of its executive summary: “Our review included examining: … Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information during the course of the investigation.”

The Executive Summary of the 568-page report goes on to say: “In addition, we identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks, meals, and admittance to non-pubic social events. We will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded, consistent with the Inspector General Act, other applicable statutes, and OIG policy.”

A subsection of the IG’s 2018 report is headlined: “Allegations that Department and FBI Employees Improperly Disclosed Non-Public Information.” It begins on page 428 of the report and runs through page 430.

“We have profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered during our review,” said this part of the 2018 report.

“In addition to the significant number of communications between FBI employees and journalists, we identified social interactions between FBI employees and journalists that were, at a minimum, inconsistent with FBI policy and Department ethics rules,” said this part of the report.

“For example,” it said, “we identified instances where FBI employees received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were guests of journalists at nonpublic social events.”

Here is the text of the Investigative Summary from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice:

“Findings of Misconduct by a Then-Senior FBI Official for Having Numerous Unauthorized Contacts with the Media, and for Accepting Unauthorized Gifts from Members of the Media

“The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated this investigation upon the receipt of records from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Insider Threat Unit, alleging that a then-Senior FBI Official had numerous contacts with members of the media between January and November 2016 in violation of FBI policy. This matter is among the OIG investigations referenced on page 430 of the OIG’s Review of Allegations Regarding Various Actions by the Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Advance of the 2016 Election (June 2018; https://oig.justice.gov/reports/review-various-actions-federal-bureau-investigation-and-department-justice-
advance-2016).

“Subsequent to the onset of the investigation, the OIG found indications that the Senior FBI Official received items of value from members of the media.

“The OIG investigation substantiated the allegation that the Senior FBI Official had numerous unauthorized contacts with the media from 2014 through 2016, in violation of FBI policy. In addition to substantive communications with reporters, this media contact included unauthorized social engagements outside of FBI Headquarters involving drinks, lunches, and dinners. The OIG also found that the Senior FBI Official violated federal regulations and FBI policy when the Senior FBI Official accepted tickets from members of the media to two black tie dinner events, one valued at $225 and the other valued at $300, and received transportation to one event from a reporter, all without prior authorization. The Senior FBI Official retired from the FBI prior to being contacted by the OIG for an interview. When later contacted by the OIG for a voluntary interview, the Senior FBI Official declined to be interviewed. The OIG has the authority to compel testimony from current Department employees upon informing them that their statements will not be used to incriminate them in a criminal proceeding. The OIG does not have the authority to compel or subpoena testimony from former Department employees, including those who retire or resign during the course of an OIG investigation.

"The OIG has completed its investigation and is providing this report to the FBI for its information."

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