Judicial Watch Requests DOJ IG Investigate Any Leaks to CNN on Stone Raid and Leaks to BuzzFeed on Cohen Testimony
FEBRUARY 13, 2019
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it sent an official complaint to the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General (IG) calling for investigations into leaks of information about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The complaint asks for an investigation of any leaks to CNN about the controversial raid on the home of Roger Stone and for leaks to BuzzFeed suggesting that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.
On January 25, 2019, CNN was the only media outlet to be present and shooting exclusive footage of the SWAT-team type raid by the FBI when it arrested former Trump associate Roger Stone at his home in Florida. Though CNN has claimed that its being on site in the dark of night was merely a matter of “good instincts,” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker told a congressional committee last week that “It was deeply concerning to me as to how CNN found out about that.”
In its complaint, Judicial Watch points out that an Inspector General investigation is required due to an apparent violation of “Limited Official Use” information, which is “unclassified information of a sensitive, proprietary or personally private nature which must be protected against release to unauthorized individuals, and this term is prescribed for use within the Department to signify such information.”
On January 17, 2019, BuzzFeed published an article titled “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About the Moscow Tower Project.” In the article, the authors reveal that they were given information “according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter.” Mueller’s office, in a rare public rebuke, later disputed the story:
BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.
In its complaint, Judicial Watch asks for an investigation into the BuzzFeed question and “equal application of the law,” considering “former FBI Director James Comey launched a federal leak investigation following comments made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani … suggesting that he had advance knowledge gleaned from federal agents of the reopening of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation resulting from the discovery of Mrs. Clinton’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.”
“The Justice Department IG must immediately investigate leaks that place law enforcement at risk and are designed to lawlessly destroy President Trump,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Deep State opponents of President Trump shouldn’t be allowed to break the law to advance their effort to overthrow the president.”
The Judicial Watch complaint is reprinted below:
Judicial Watch, Inc. is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability, and integrity in government and fidelity to the rule of law. We regularly monitor the operations of the federal government as part of our anti-corruption mission.
This letter serves as our formal complaint for you to open investigations into two (2) matters related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, that we believe may involve violations of federal law and/or Department of Justice regulations.
The first matter involves reported leaks by federal law enforcement officials to reporters at BuzzFeed News, an online news outlet, alleging President Trump directed his former legal counsel, Michael Cohen, to lie to members of Congress in sworn testimony. Specifically, BuzzFeed reporters Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier published an article titled “President Trump Directed His Attorney Michael Cohen To Lie To Congress About the Moscow Tower Project.”
The opening paragraph of the article, published on January 17, 2019, stated:
President Donald Trump directed his longtime attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, according to two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter. [Emphasis added]
We note that, according to public reporting, former FBI Director James Comey launched a federal leak investigation following comments made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in a Fox News interview in 2016 suggesting that he had advance knowledge gleaned from federal agents of the reopening of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation resulting from the discovery of Mrs. Clinton’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.
Therefore, as a matter of equal application of the law, we request that a leak investigation related to the BuzzFeed reporters’ claims be undertaken.
The second matter to which we bring your attention that requires an Inspector General investigation relates to the apparent advance unauthorized disclosure or notice provided to CNN of the FBI arrest of former Trump associate Roger Stone on January 25, 2019.
Specifically, information related to the pending arrest of a suspect would be considered Limited Official Use (LOU) information, which is governed by DOJ Regulation 2620.7, to wit:
Limited Official Use information is unclassified information of a sensitive, proprietary or personally private nature which must be protected against release to unauthorized individuals, and this term is prescribed for use within the Department to signify such information.
Among those categories of information, the Department recommends be on that could result in physical risk to individuals.”
The close proximity of civilians in the form of CNN journalists to the scene of an arrest that apparently required upwards of two dozen heavily armed federal agents would seem to pose a physical risk to those individuals.
Therefore, the apparent advance unauthorized disclosures or notice provided to CNN by federal officials of the pending arrest of Mr. Stone would appear to violate DOJ guidelines. Regulation 2620.7 also stipulates:
UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE. Heads of Departmental organizations shall ensure that prompt and appropriate administrative action is taken against personnel responsible for disclosure of Limited Official Use material to unauthorized individuals and issue appropriate directives, if needed, to affect this action.
We hereby request that the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General undertake investigations into both aforementioned apparent violations of federal law and/or regulations.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter.