A government watchdog couldn't determine if FBI agents were feeding information to Rudy Giuliani ahead of the 2016 election – finding that leads provided by the FBI on contacts with former President Donald Trump's lawyer were "inaccurate."
The latest report released this month from the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General Michael Horowitz states the "alleged disclosures of non-public information in October 2016 were made to reporters who wrote stories about FBI actions in advance of the 2016 presidential election, including alleged disclosures to Rudolph Giuliani."
Horowitz said he believed four FBI employees had contact with Giuliani at the time – but that all four denied any contact with Giuliani, who was serving as then presidential candidate Trump at the time.
"After interviewing the four agents, the OIG requested additional information from the FBI about the basis for its conclusion that the four agents had been in contact with Giuliani using their FBI devices," the report stated.
"In a memorandum to the OIG, the FBI stated it had determined that the employees had used their FBI devices to contact telephone numbers attributed to Giuliani. The OIG determined that the numbers used by the FBI were for the general telephone line for the New York office of the law firm at which Giuliani was a partner during the relevant time frames, and two other general telephone lines for businesses at which Giuliani had not been affiliated since at least 2007.
"The telephone numbers attributed by the FBI to Giuliani were not, therefore, specific to Giuliani. Accordingly, the purported investigative leads provided by the FBI based on alleged FBI employee contacts with Giuliani were inaccurate."
The comments that caused all the furor were first made by Giuliani on Oct. 26, 2016, when he appeared as a guest on a television program, and was asked about the presidential campaign of then-candidate Trump, for whom Giuliani was serving as an adviser.
"Giuliani expressed confidence about then-candidate Trump’s prospects in the upcoming election during his televised interview, noting, 'I think he’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises,'" the report noted.
Two days later then FBI Director Janes Comey told Congress the FBI was re-opening its probe into whether then-candidate Hillary Clinton or her aides had mishandled classified information.
Later on Oct. 28, 2016, Giuliani on a radio show discussed "rumors" he’d been hearing about the Clinton email investigation from "former agents, and even from a few active agents, who obviously don't want to identify themselves," the report noted.
"As a result of the content and timing of these public statements by Giuliani suggesting that current or former FBI personnel may have provided non-public investigative information to him, the OIG contacted Giuliani, who agreed to appear for a voluntary interview," the Horowitz report stated.
"The OIG asked Giuliani about the comments described above, and others he made that potentially indicated misconduct by FBI personnel in October 2016.
Giuliani told the OIG he hadn't gotten any information about any ongoing FBI investigations, including Comey's decision to re-open the Hillary Clinton email investigation, the report said.
"Giuliani also said he had not been in contact with any active FBI agents in October 2016, and stated that he had only spoken with former agents who did not have any direct or indirect knowledge of FBI investigations in October 2016, and that the extent of his conversations with former agents was ‘gossip’ about Comey’s decision-making in 2016. He stated that his use of the term ‘active’ was meant to refer to retired FBI agents who were still actively working in security and consulting," the report stated.
Overall the report found broad contact between FBI officers and the media, with 56 FBI employees having been in contact with the media. Each one "denied providing non-public information" and "believed they were authorized under FBI policy and/or by a supervisory official in their office to have and maintain media contacts," Horowitz wrote.
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