Judicial Watch Obtains Records of 14 Referrals of FBI Employees for Leaking Sensitive or Classified Information
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today it received records of 14 referrals of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) employees to the organization’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) for the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive or classified information. The disclosure comes on the heels of Judicial Watch’s uncovering a FBI report detailing fired FBI Director James Comey kept FBI documents on President Trump at his house. Comey also admitted to leaking these documents.
Although the FBI’s OPR does not have its own website, according to the DOJ’s OPR, leak allegations may come, “from a variety of sources, including U.S. Attorney’s offices and other Department components, courts, Congress, media reports, other federal agencies, state and local government agencies, private citizens, private attorneys, criminal defendants, civil litigants, and self-referrals. OPR also regularly conducts its own searches to identify judicial findings of misconduct against Department attorneys.”
According to the DOJ’s OPR, it “investigates certain misconduct allegations involving federal law enforcement agents when they relate to a Department attorney’s alleged professional misconduct, as well as claims of reprisal against FBI whistleblowers.” “If OPR finds professional misconduct in a particular case, a different office—the Professional Misconduct Review Unit—reviews OPR’s findings and determines the appropriate discipline.” Final recommendations are given to “the appropriate office.”
Judicial Watch obtained the records through a January 2019 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking:
- All complaints, referrals, or other reports received by the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility related to the unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and/or classified information by any employee of the FBI.
- Any records documenting the closure or other final disposition of any complaint, referral, or other report described in part one of this request.
One referral obtained by Judicial Watch that appears to refer to former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe was closed on March 20, 2018 and states as a mitigating factor that the “Employee was facing unprecedented challengers and pressures.”
(Name redacted) (DOJ/O&R) Closed: 3/20/2018 References: 2.5, 2.6, 4.10
SES [Senior Executive Service] employee released the FBI Sensitive information to a reporter and lacked candor not under oath and under oath when questioned about it, in violation of Offense Codes 4.10 (Unauthorized Disclosure – Sensitive Information); 2.5 (Lack of Candor- No Oath); and 2.6 (Lack of Candor – Under Oath).
The proposed decision in this matter was made by the AD, OPR. The final decision was made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. DOK retains final decision-making authority for certain high-ranking FBI officials.
MITIGATION: Employee as (redacted) years of FBI service and a remarkable performance record. Employee was facing unprecedented challengers and pressures.
AGGRAVATION: Employee held an extremely high position and was expected to comport himself with the utmost integrity. Lack of candor is incompatible with the FBI’s Core Values.
FINAL ACTION(S): OPR PROPOSED DECISION Proposed DISMISSAL
OPR FINAL DECISION: DISMISSAL
After an extensive and fair investigation and according to Department of Justice procedure, the Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) provided its report on allegations of misconduct by Andrew McCabe to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
The FBI’s OPR then reviewed the report and underlying documents and issued a disciplinary proposal recommending the dismissal of Mr. McCabe. Both the OIG and FBI OPR reports concluded that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor − including under oath − on multiple occasions.
Pursuant to Department Order 1202, and based on the report of the Inspector General, the findings of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility, and the recommendation of the Department’s senior career official, I have terminated the employment of Andrew McCabe effective immediately.”
The records show that penalties for unauthorized disclosure of sensitive and/or classified information ranged from no action (due to administrative closure) to, as in the case of McCabe, dismissal. Other FBI employees’ offenses reported in the documents list several cases in which the final action was less severe than OPR’s proposal:
- An unidentified employee was fired. The case was closed in July 2016.
- An unidentified employee was given a one-day suspension without pay. The case was closed in April 2016.
- The following year, an unidentified employee received a five-day suspension without pay, and the case was closed administratively in April 2017.
- An SES agent who “misused an FBI database, and provided sensitive information to a former FBI employee” was reported to have had as mitigation that he felt he “had the support of his Division to use his discretion.” OPR proposed a 15-day suspension, but the final decision was to give a letter of censure. This case was closed in June 2017.
- An unidentified employee was fired. The case was closed in May 2018.
- An unidentified employee was recommended for dismissal but received a 45-day suspension. The case was closed in October 2017.
- An unidentified employee was given a 14-day suspension. The case was closed in March 2016.
- An unidentified employee, who was cited for misuse of an FBI database and unauthorized disclosure of classified/law-enforcement sensitive/grand jury information, was given a 12-day suspension. The case was closed in January 2016.
- An unidentified employee received a letter of censure. The case was closed in August 2016.
- An unidentified employee was given a letter of censure. The case was closed in October 2016.
- An unidentified employee was accused of “Investigative deficiency – improper handling of documents or property in the care, custody or control of the government; unauthorized disclosure – classified/law enforcement sensitive/grand jury information” and “failure to report – administrative.” It was proposed that they be given a 30-calendar day suspension without pay; the final decision from OPR was that they were given a 10-calendar day suspension without pay. This case was closed in February 2018.
- An unidentified employee was fired. This case was closed in October 2017.
- An unidentified employee was given a letter of censure. It was proposed that they be fired, but the final decision was a 60-day suspension without pay. The case was closed in January 2019.
“No wonder the FBI was leaking so profusely. Collectively, these documents show lenient treatment for evident criminal activity. Only four of the 14 employees found to have made an unauthorized disclosure were dismissed from the FBI,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And even though Andrew McCabe was fired and referred for a criminal investigation for his leak, no prosecution has taken place.”
Judicial Watch has previously obtained documents showing previously undisclosed discussions of McCabe’s conflicts of interest in the Clinton email investigation and his secret recusal from the same investigation.
In April 2019, Judicial Watch sued for records of communications between the FBI and McCabe related to his book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:19-cv-00976)).