Republican lawmakers are calling “hypocrisy” on the failure of the Department of Justice to charge a former senior FBI official for violating bureau policy by accepting gifts from a reporter and lying about the incident to investigators when questioned, according to an Inspector General report released Tuesday.
The DOJ’s Inspector General’s investigative summary titled “Findings of Misconduct by an FBI Official for Accepting Gifts from Members of the Media and for Lack of Candor” revealed that “a senior FBI official accepted two tickets to a professional sports game as a gift from a television news correspondent who regularly covered the FBI and DOJ, in violation of federal regulations.”
The Inspector General’s investigation substantiated the findings “and the senior FBI official acknowledged, that the official accepted two tickets to a professional sports event from the TV correspondent without paying the correspondent for the tickets. The senior FBI official initially maintained to the OIG in an interview under oath that the official had paid for the tickets, but five days later admitted to the OIG that the official did not.”
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s office did not recommend prosecution for the senior official despite the fact he lied to investigators initially.
Rep. Mark Meadows said in a Tweet Tuesday “total hypocrisy.”
“DOJ prosecutes Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI,” Meadows stated. “But a senior FBI official accepted free gifts from a media member, lied to the FBI about it, and faces no prosecution.”
Total hypocrisy. DOJ prosecutes Mike Flynn and George Papadopoulos for lying to the FBI. But a senior FBI official accepted free gifts from a media member, lied to the FBI about it, and faces no prosecution.
With the DOJ: 'Lying to the FBI is a crime for thee–but not for me.' https://t.co/msrHOGsRoi
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) October 16, 2018
Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Advisor, and Papadopoulous, a campaign advisor, were both charged with one count of lying to the FBI as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russia collusion with the Trump campaign. In December 2017, Flynn pled guilty to one count of lying to the FBI about conversations he had with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. However, former FBI Director James Comey testified to Congress that the two FBI special agents who interviewed Flynn before he was fired by the administration did not believe that he was lying during their interviews with him. Flynn was interviewed by former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka. Strzok has since been fired for his handling of the Russia probe into the Trump campaign and the discovery of thousands of text messages – mainly anti-Trump messages- exchanged between him and his lover former FBI Attorney Lisa Page. Page has since resigned from the bureau. Flynn is still awaiting sentencing.
Papadopoulos was sentenced to 14 days in prison after making a deal with prosecutors. Prosecutors accused Papadopoulos of providing false statements during an interview he had with the FBI in January, 2017.
The OIG report stated that the senior FBI official “lacked candor” with the investigators in “several respects about the tickets.”
According to the report, “The OIG found that the senior FBI official had previously accepted one ticket from the same correspondent to another professional sports event, and one ticket from a different news reporter to another sports event.”
The FBI official could provide no proof that they had paid for the tickets given to them from the reporter, the report stated.
“The senior FBI official’s conduct violated federal regulations prohibiting federal employees from accepting gifts from prohibited sources, such as members of the media, where, for example, the source seek official action by the employee’s agency; the source does business or seeks to do business with the employee’s agency; and the source has interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or nonperformance of the employee’s official duties.”
The OIG investigators, however, declined criminal prosecution and the senior FBI official retired from the bureau during the OIG’s investigation, the report stated.