The report by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz rebuking former FBI Director James Comey for violating protocol in his oversight of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified information found that many FBI employees were in unauthorized contact with journalists.
The report said that while FBI policy “strictly limits the employees who are authorized to speak to the media, we found that this policy appeared to be widely ignored during the period we reviewed.”
What was going on, the report said, was “numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media … were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters.”
The IG said his team had “profound concerns about the volume and extent of unauthorized media contacts by FBI personnel that we have uncovered during our review.”
It also pointed out that there were deals going on between reporters and agents that wouldn’t stand up under scrutiny.
“We identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sport events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events. We will separately report on those investigations as they are concluded,” the report said, “consistent with the Inspector General Act” and other laws.
“The harm caused by leaks, fear of potential leaks, and a culture of unauthorized media contacts is illustrated in Chapters Ten and Eleven of our report, where we detail the fact that these issues influenced FBI officials who were advising Comey on consequential investigative decisions in October 2016,” the report said.
“The FBI updated its media policy in November 2017, restating its strict guidelines concerning media contacts, and identifying who is required to obtain authority before engaging members of the meda, and when and where to report media contact.”
The leaks, the report said, “highlight the need to change what appears to be a cultural attitude among many in the organization.”