Top FBI Official Had Undisclosed Relationship With Dozens of Journalists

FBI Headquarters / Photo by Sammy Six via Wikimedia Commons

The FBI’s top national security official had dozens of improper meetings with journalists and accepted tickets from one journalist to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, interactions that FBI officials said were a “no-no” and “dangerous.”

Michael Steinbach, who served as an FBI executive assistant director, failed to report the gifts on his federal financial disclosures, according to an inspector general report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. He met regularly from 2014 until his abrupt retirement in February 2017 with 7 reporters and had contact with 21 others. His interactions with journalists overlapped with his work on major counterterrorism cases and Crossfire Hurricane, the ill-fated investigation into collusion between the 2016 Donald Trump campaign and Russia.

The report, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, is the latest example of a top FBI official accepting gifts from journalists. The former head of FBI public affairs, Michael Kortan, received baseball game tickets and other gifts from CNN and New York Times reporters. Journalists also plied Steinbach’s former deputy, Bryan Paarmann, with a variety of gifts.

The FBI prohibits employees from accepting gifts from a “prohibited source”—a category that includes journalists—without prior authorization. FBI officials told the inspector general that off-the-books meetings like Steinbach’s could “lead to a lot of problems” within the bureau.

Read more at The Washington Free Beacon

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