Senior FBI Official Lied About Accepting Sports Tickets From Reporters

Chuck Ross | Reporter

A senior FBI official accepted tickets to sporting events from reporters and initially lied about it to government investigators, according to a report released Tuesday.

The conduct of the FBI official, who has not been identified, violated federal regulations that prohibit federal employees from accepting gifts from journalists and other “prohibited sources.”

The improper gifts were discovered in text messages reviewed by the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) as part of its investigation into the FBI’s handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails and the Trump-Russia investigations. (RELATED: FBI Report: Agents Regularly Received Handouts From Members Of The Media)

The same investigation led to the firings of Andrew McCabe as FBI deputy director and Peter Strzok as deputy chief of the FBI’s counterintelligence division. McCabe was found to have falsely denied authorizing leaks to the media in October 2016 about the Clinton probe. Strzok, who led the Trump-Russia probe, was found to have exchanged anti-Trump text messages with his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page.

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok testifies before a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill July 12, 2018 in Washington, DC. While involved in the probe into Hillary ClintonÕs use of a private email server in 2016, Strzok exchanged text messages with FBI attorney Lisa Page that were critical of Trump. After learning about the messages, Mueller removed Strzok from his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.

Deputy Assistant FBI Director Peter Strzok testifies before a joint committee hearing of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees on July 12, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Both Page and former FBI general counsel James Baker resigned from the bureau on May 4.

The official, who retired from the FBI during the investigation, will not be referred for prosecution, the OIG said.

The text messages showed that the 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,” according to the OIG report.

The official initially told the OIG under oath that the official paid for the tickets. The official reversed course five days later, admitting to inspectors that the reporter had purchased the tickets.

“The OIG found that the senior FBI official lacked candor with the OIG in several respects about the tickets,” according to the report.

The official also previously accepted a ticket from the same reporter to another sporting event. A second reporter gave the official a ticket to another sports event, according to the OIG.

The official claimed to have paid the TV correspondent and reporter for the tickets, but the OIG found no evidence to substantiate the claim.

The FBI did not respond to a request for comment and to identify the FBI official.

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