‘The Department’s declination to prosecute leaks only serves to embolden leakers to continue their reckless actions over time…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., said disgraced former FBI counterintelligence chief Peter Strzok was the likely subject of a recently closed investigation that found evidence of illegal leaking but declined to prosecute.
Collins, the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, submitted letters to Attorney General William Barr and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz asking both to elaborate on the tersely worded investigation summary released Wednesday by the IG’s office.
“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,” Collins wrote in his letter to Barr.
“It undermines a fundamental underpinning of our justice system and can put lives in jeopardy,” he said.
The summary said that an unnamed subject, identified only as a former deputy assistant director (DAD), had leaked information to the media in violation of federal contempt of court statutes and FBI policy—and had committed further misconduct by accepting a ticket of $225 value to a media-sponsored dinner.
Although the summary quietly announced the closure of the investigation, with a referral to the FBI for any further action, it said the matter would not be prosecuted.
The release, whether intentionally or not, was eclipsed in the news cycle by a press conference from former special counsel Robert Mueller on his investigation into the Russian collusion hoax and allegations of obstruction of justice.
Collins, in his letter to Barr, criticized the decision not to pursue charges, calling the leaks “a dangerous, illegal action.”
“The Department’s declination to prosecute leaks only serves to embolden leakers to continue their reckless actions over time,” he said.
Collins said all indications pointed to the unnamed DAD leaker being Strzok, who was fired from the FBI last August after having been reassigned when anti-Trump text messages between him and his mistress, FBI counsel Lisa Page, emerged during a Congressional investigation.
An earlier Liberty Headlines report, since retracted, indicated the individual under investigation was former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
McCabe also stood accused in Congressional testimony of leaking classified information—for which President Donald Trump ultimately fired him in March 2018.
Wednesday’s investigative summary referenced a section of an inspector general’s report from June 2018 that immediately preceded an examination of McCabe’s likely misconduct in an unrelated matter, regarding his wife’s financial ties to Hillary Clinton surrogates while McCabe was actively overseeing the investigation of Clinton’s private email server.
However, in an e-mail to Liberty Headlines, John Lavinsky, senior counsel to the inspector general, noted that in the section of the report concerning the culture of leaks at the FBI, “the analysis specifically focuses on ‘numerous FBI employees,’ ‘large numbers of FBI employees,’ and ‘dozens of FBI employees,’ without referencing any specific individuals by name or title.”
Although it is plausible that any leaking McCabe was investigated for would have begun prior to his February 2016 appointment as deputy director, when he held a position similar to DAD, Lavinsky also noted the discrepancy in titles to dismiss the possibility that McCabe was the subject of that particular investigation.
As well as seeking confirmation that Strzok was the individual in question, in his letters to Barr and Horowitz, Collins sought to find out more about the status of investigations into McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey.
It is unclear whether the recent closure of the inspector general’s investigation and decision not to prosecute may be tied with Barr’s appointment of U.S. Attorney John Durham as special prosecutor to broadly investigate the origins of the Russia hoax and the use of the debunked Steele Dossier to engage in eavesdropping on President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.
Inspector General Horowitz is said to have been working closely with Durham and other DOJ officials in their efforts.
Trump recently declassified many of the documents surrounding the investigations, much to the chagrin of partisan Democrats and process-minded FBI bureaucrats.
Liberty Headlines reached out to Lavinsky in the IG’s office for additional comment or confirmation regarding Collins’s letters and will update with any replies.