Senior FBI Official Improperly Took Gifts From Journalists Amid Trump Investigation: DOJ Watchdog

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.
July 20, 2021 Updated: July 20, 2021

The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) inspector general on Tuesday found that a former senior FBI official repeatedly violated the bureau’s policy by having unauthorized contact with the media.

The inspector general’s office, according to report, said the unnamed official had “received items of value from members of the media” and had “numerous unauthorized contacts with the media” between 2014 and 2016.

Describing the behavior as a violation of the FBI’s policy, the report said the FBI official had “unauthorized social engagements outside of FBI Headquarters involving drinks, lunches, and dinners.”

The official also accepted tickets from media members to two black-tie dinner events, including one valued at $300 and the other at $225. They also received transportation to the event from a reporter, who was not named, the report said.

“When later contacted by the [inspector general’s office] for a voluntary interview, the Senior FBI Official declined to be interviewed,” the office wrote, adding that it indeed 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.”

But the office “does not have the authority to compel or subpoena testimony from former Department employees, including those who retire or resign during” the course of the investigation, the report said.

Although the inspector general’s report released Tuesday provided scant details, the findings are sure to bolster claims that some FBI and other U.S. intelligence officials have developed a cozy relationship with members of the media in recent years.

In 2019, former top FBI press officer Michael Kortan received baseball tickets from a CNN reporter in 2016 and also allegedly lied to investigators, according to a report from the DOJ. Kortan, who resigned in 2018, had “lacked candor under oath when he provided answers to OIG’s questions relating to the September 2016 tickets that were misleading and false,” the report said.

Former President Donald Trump and his allies have long alleged the FBI has colluded with mainstream media outlets by leaking sensitive information to them on a variety of issues, including claims that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign colluded with Russia or regarding allegations surrounding President Joe Biden’s son Hunter’s overseas business dealings.

In late December, Trump accused the DOJ, FBI, and legacy media of covering up an investigation into Hunter Biden’s tax problems because they wanted to protect then-candidate Joe Biden.

And during the previous December, the inspector general’s office found the FBI committed at least 17 errors or omissions when it opened and renewed the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)-backed surveillance of former Trump aide Carter Page starting in 2016. Michael Horowitz, the agency’s inspector general, said “decision-makers” at the FBI should have been “given complete and accurate information so that they could meaningfully evaluate probable cause before authorizing the surveillance” of an American associated with a presidential campaign.

The Epoch Times has reached out to the FBI for comment.

Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Senior Reporter
Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.