The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday demanded to know why there was no prosecution of an FBI official who was found to have illegally leaked sealed court filings.
“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,” Mr. Collins wrote. “It undermines a fundamental underpinning of our justice system and can put lives in jeopardy.”
“Leaking classified material is also a dangerous, illegal action,” he continued. “The department’s declination to prosecute leaks only serves to embolden the leakers to continue their reckless actions over time.”
On Wednesday, Mr. Horowitz released an investigative summary announcing an FBI official, only identified as a former deputy assistant director, leaked “sensitive” information to the media, disclosed sealed court records, and accepted gifts from reporters.
The summary says a prosecution of the person was declined, but does not offer further explanation. Mr. Horowitz said the investigation’s findings will be referred to the FBI for potential further action.
Specifically, the Justice Department OIG found that the ex-deputy assistant director, or DAD, disclosed to the media the existence of material that had been filed under seal in federal court, a violation of federal law. Leaking sealed material is punishable by jail time or fine.
The report also found the DAD “engaged in misconduct” by accepting a ticket valued at roughly $225 to attend a media-sponsored dinner, a gift from a journalist. The ticket violated both federal regulations and internal FBI policy, Mr. Horowitz said.
The official is the second high-ranking FBI official to be dinged by Mr. Horowitz for improper media contacts. Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired in March 2018 after an OIG report found he “lacked candor” when discussing his conversations with reporters about federal investigations.
A report last year by Mr. Horowitz blamed the FBI for a “culture of media leaking, saying it was so rampant it difficult to identify the source of several major leaks.
“The large number of FBI employees who were in contact with journalists during this time period impacted our ability to identify the source of leaks,” he wrote. “For example, during the period we reviewed, we identified dozens of FBI employees that had contact with members of the media.”
In his letter on Thursday, Mr. Collins asked the Justice Department why prosecution was declined and how many active leak cases the department is pursuing. He also wanted to know whether investigators were looking into whether former FBI James B. Comey illegally leaked classified material by sharing memos he authored detailing his conversations with President Trump.
“Over the past year, however, little information has been shared publicly — or with Congress — regarding the status of these leak investigations,” Mr. Collins wrote.
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