Two top House Democrats are asking the Justice Department to investigate leaks from within the FBI to the Trump campaign and the news media about bureau probes of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for the FBI to leak unsubstantiated — and in some cases, false — information about one presidential candidate to benefit the other candidate,” Rep. John Conyers, the ranking minority member on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking minority member on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, wrote in a Friday letter to Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general.
The letter cited comments by Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s top advisers, that appeared to indicate he had obtained internal information on the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s emails. Giuliani bragged on TV about a “pretty big surprise coming” two days before FBI Director James Comey announced to Congress last week that investigators would review new emails. On Friday, Giuliani said on Fox News, “You’re darn right I heard about it,” when asked about those comments, although he indicated that his reference was to upcoming Trump campaign TV ads. He added that he had learned about a “revolution going on inside the FBI” over Clinton based on information he had heard from former agents.
The congressmen also pointed to a Wednesday report by Fox News anchor Bret Baier that said FBI sources told him the bureau was “actively and aggressively” investigating the Clinton Foundation and that an indictment was “likely.” On Friday, Baier partially retracted the story, saying his report of a “likely” indictment was a “mistake.”
“These unauthorized and inaccurate leaks from within the FBI, particularly so close to a presidential election, are unprecedented,” the congressmen wrote. “For these reasons, we are calling on your office to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the sources of these and other leaks from the FBI and to recommend appropriate action.”
The letter comes after a wave of news stories this week describing internal dissension between the FBI and the Justice Department over an inquiry launched by agents last year into allegations of potential “pay to play” wrongdoing committed by the Clinton Foundation.
The stories — reported by the Wall Street Journal and Fox News — recounted how agents in New York and four other field offices began to probe the foundation last year but were reportedly blocked by higher-ups in the Justice Department. The stories cited the existence of an undercover tape that allegedly supports some of the claims being investigated. But Justice Department officials reportedly found the evidence insubstantial to escalate the preliminary probe into a full-scale field investigation, and there is no indication at this point that one exists.
Spokesmen for the FBI and the Justice Department’s inspector general declined to comment.