Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz announced today the release of a Report of Investigation Regarding Alleged Unauthorized Contacts by Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Employees with the Media and Other Persons in Advance of the 2016 Election. The DOJ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated this investigation in response to information that came to our attention during our Review of Allegations Regarding Various Actions by the Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Advance of the 2016 Election.
The OIG’s investigation into alleged unauthorized contacts by FBI employees with the media in 2016 resulted in separate findings of individual misconduct by three senior FBI officials, which the OIG previously reported. The OIG released summaries of our investigative findings in those three matters on October 16, 2018, on May 29, 2019, and on July 20, 2021. In each case, we determined that the senior official’s contact with the media violated FBI policies and DOJ ethics rules.
In addition to those three matters, we determined that dozens of other FBI employees had contact with certain members of the media who reported on non-public information about ongoing criminal investigations during the periods of the OIG’s investigation -- April, May, and October 2016. However, the OIG was unable to determine whether the media contacts by FBI personnel involved the sharing of non-public information with media members who reported the non-public info.
Consistent with OIG practice, the OIG did not seek testimony from media members, or their telephone, email or other communications records from third-parties.
As described in today’s report, in addition to the three senior FBI officials the OIG determined engaged in misconduct related to their media contacts referenced above, the OIG is referring six employees to the FBI for it to determine whether their media contacts warrant disciplinary or other corrective action.