The media appears to have paid FBI agents, congressional staffers and others for dirt on the president.
One congressional aide, Senate intelligence committee security director James Wolfe, has been indicted for giving false statements to FBI agents looking into leaks given to the New York Times’ Ali Watkins, a reporter 30 years his junior, with whom he had a three-year affair.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Watkins made the Times and her previous employers aware of the affair when she was hired, meaning some of America’s leading news organizations – she also has worked for BuzzFeed, Politico and HuffPost – approved of her sleeping with a source for stories.
But Watkins was hardly alone.
According to Fox News, “Numerous FBI employees accepted inappropriate gifts from reporters and routinely spoke to media outlets without authorization during the Hillary Clinton email probe,” the Justice Department Inspector General’s report stated.
“We identified instances where FBI employees improperly received benefits from reporters, including tickets to sporting events, golfing outings, drinks and meals, and admittance to nonpublic social events.”
Horowitz wrote in the report that “officials in the bureau ‘at all levels of the organization,’ leaked information to reporters without authorization,” according to Fox News. Horowitz’s report also said the FBI’s strict media relations policy, which sets out exactly who is allowed to disclose information to the press, was “widely ignored” during the Clinton email probe and after, Fox News reported.
The report included a chart that identified dozens of FBI agents who spoke to reporters without permission, “including special agents, agents in charge, secretaries, management and program analysts, attorneys, an ‘FBI executive’ a deputy assistant director and an assistant director.”
“These leaks highlight the need to change what appears to be a cultural attitude among many in the organization,” the report stated.
Since the Justice Department Inspector General report released last week was to deal with the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, it did not look more closely at the practice, but Horowitz said a future report would.
Some on the left say Trump supporters may not like those findings. Mother Jones wrote that agents fed up with then-FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her homebrew email server retaliated by leaking anti-Hillary news through the New York office of the FBI.
“The FBI leaked like a sieve in 2016, and those disclosures helped Donald Trump, according to a newly released inspector general’s report on FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation,” Mother Jones’ Dan Friedman led his story.
Friedman’s proof is that anti-Trumpers were concerned about leaks from New York.
“The report doesn’t say which agents allegedly accepted such benefits,” he wrote. “But elsewhere it notes that senior FBI and DOJ officials were especially concerned about leaks from the bureau’s New York field office, many of which were damaging to Clinton.
“Former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe – who himself was fired earlier this year in part for a lack of candor regarding disclosures to the press that he authorized – told the IG’s office that he was concerned about leaks from the New York office. The report also notes that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch repeatedly raised concerns about leaks from New York.”
Mother Jones then stated FBI leadership, including Director Comey, planned to withhold from the public that it had discovered additional emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop to protect her campaign but announced it out of fear these angry agents would leak it anyway.
“If we don’t put a letter, somebody is going to leak it,” James Baker, who was general counsel for the FBI at that time, told the IG’s office. “That’s just what we talked about.”
Those involved in the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump cases may well have to explain their conduct in court. But the media will have to explain why it presented to us as truth stories it paid for by bribing agents and others with gifts of all kinds.