“. . . the dissemination of material filed under seal with a federal court is a serious offense especially when the person engaging in the unauthorized dissemination is a law enforcement official. It undermines a fundamental underpinning of our justice system and can put lives in jeopardy. Leaking classified material is also a dangerous, illegal action. The Department’s declination to prosecute leaks only serves to embolden leakers to continue their reckless actions over time.” 

WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, today sent letters to the attorney general and inspector general regarding the Office of the Inspector General’s investigation summary into misconduct by a former FBI deputy assistant director. The letter to the inspector general raises questions about the identity of the deputy assistant director in question, and the letter to the attorney general inquires about the status of criminal referrals made by the inspector general to the Justice Department.

The text of the letter to Attorney General William Barr is available here and below.

May 30, 2019

The Honorable William P. Barr
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Dear Attorney General Barr:

I write regarding yesterday’s Investigative Summary issued by the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) titled Findings of Misconduct by an FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Unauthorized Contacts with the Media, Disclosing Law Enforcement and Other Sensitive Information to the Media, and Accepting a Gift from the Media (Summary). The Summary notes an FBI Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) “disclosed to the media the existence of information that had been filed under seal in federal court, in violation of 18 USC § 401, Contempt of Court.” The Summary noted, however, “[p]rosecution of the DAD was declined.”

As you are aware, the dissemination of material filed under seal with a federal court is a serious offense especially when the person engaging in the unauthorized dissemination is a law enforcement official. It undermines a fundamental underpinning of our justice system and can put lives in jeopardy. Leaking classified material is also a dangerous, illegal action. The Department’s declination to prosecute leaks only serves to embolden leakers to continue their reckless actions over time.

There are at Least Three Potential Investigations of former senior FBI Officials Regarding Unauthorized Leaks

Your predecessor, Jeff Sessions, recognized the damage such leaks could do and vowed to combat them. On November 14, 2017 he testified to Congress, “Members of the committee, we had about nine open investigations of classified leaks in the last three years. We have 27 investigations open today. We intend to get to the bottom of these leaks.” Under Sessions’ tenure, the Department took aggressive action towards investigating leakers. In addition to the disclosures noted in the Summary, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut began conducting a criminal investigation into former FBI General Counsel James Baker for leaking information to reporters. Notably, a grand jury returned a three-count indictment against a former staffer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence regarding his role in an investigation into the leaking of classified information.

Last April it was reported the Inspector General referred former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia due to McCabe’s lack of candor. As the OIG reported, McCabe disclosed confidential investigative details to a media outlet “to advance his personal interests at the expense of Department leadership.” McCabe subsequently lied under oath to the FBI’s Inspections Division and the DOJ OIG.

Separately, last June the Inspector General testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee his office was investigating former FBI Director James Comey’s leaking of memos he wrote regarding his conversations with the President.

Over the past year, however, little information has been shared publicly—or with Congress—regarding the status of these leak investigations. Therefore, please provide answers to the following questions on or before June 7, 2019:

  1. Did the OIG refer the DAD discussed in yesterday’s Summary to the Department for prosecution? Did the Department decline prosecution? Why?
  2. Is the investigation into James Baker still ongoing
  3. Did the OIG criminal referral regarding Andrew McCabe develop into an investigation? If yes, is it ongoing and what is the status
  4. How many active cases does the Department have regarding classified leaks?
  5. Has the Department recently conducted a criminal investigation into James Comey regarding possible leaking of classified information? If so, how did that investigation originate, and what is the status of that investigation?

Thank you in advance for your answers to these questions. In lieu of a written reply, my staff is available for an in-person briefing on this matter.

Sincerely,

Doug Collins
Ranking Member

cc:       The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman

The text of the letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz is available here and below.

May 30, 2019

The Honorable Michael Horowitz
Inspector General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Inspector General Horowitz:

I write regarding the Investigative Summary released by your office yesterday titledFindings of Misconduct by an FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Unauthorized Contacts with the Media, Disclosing Law Enforcement and Other Sensitive Information to the Media, and Accepting a Gift from the Media (Summary).  The investigation leading to the Summary originally stemmed from your office’s Review of Allegations Regarding Various Actions be the Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Advance of the 2016 Election (2018 Report).

The Summary states, in pertinent part:

The OIG investigation concluded that the DAD [Deputy Assistant Director] engaged in misconduct when the DAD: (1) disclosed to the media the existence of information that had been filed under seal in federal court, in violation of 18 USC §401, Contempt of Court; (2) provided without authorization FBI law enforcement sensitive information to reporters on multiple occasions; and (3) had dozens of official contacts with the media without authorization, in violation of FBI policy.

The Summary later states “Prosecution of the DAD was declined.”

While the DAD is not named in the Summary, there are several indications the DAD in question is former FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok. For example, the 2018 Report noted, “Peter Strzok is an experienced counterintelligence agent who was promoted to Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) of the Espionage Section in September 2016.” The 2018 Report also said, “[m]ost troubling, on October 29, 2016, Strzok forwarded from his FBI account to his personal email account an email about the proposed search warrant the Midyear team was seeking on the Weiner laptop. This email included a draft of the search warrant affidavit, which contained information from the Weiner investigation that appears to have been under seal at the time in the Southern District of New York . . .”

According to Figure 3.1 of the 2018 Report, no other Deputy Assistant Director was in the FBI Chain of Command for the Midyear investigation, the main subject of the 2018 Report. As such, please answer the following questions:

  1. Is Peter Strzok the DAD referenced in the report?
  2. Was this case referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution?
  3. Did the Department decline to prosecute? If so, why?
  4. Was the appropriate federal court notified an FBI agent disclosed to the media existence of information that had been filed under seal? If not, why not? If so, what, if any, action was taken by the Court?

Additionally, last year you testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee your office was investigating former FBI Director James Comey’s leaking of memos he wrote regarding his conversations with the President. Specifically, you testified, “we received a referral on that from the FBI. We are handling that referral and we will issue a report when the matter is complete, consistent with the law and rules.” To better understand the status of this review, please answer the following question:

5. Is your office’s investigation into James Comey still ongoing? If not, what was the resolution of your investigation? If so, when do you anticipate issuing a report on the matter?

Please provide answers to these questions on or before June 7, 2019. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in these matters.

Sincerely,

Doug Collins
Ranking Member

cc:       The Honorable Jerrold Nadler, Chairman