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FBI Opens Internal Investigation Into Its Own Twitter Account

Thursday, November 3, 2016 9:56
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Three days ago, a Twitter account controlled by the FBI, @FBIRecordsVault, caused a political and media uproar when it unexpectedly tweeted documents regarding former President Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Marc Rich.  The account, which had been dormant for more than a year, awoke on October 30 at 4 a.m. when it released several documents, including one describing Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump as a “philanthropist.”

But while the Trump disclosure was largely unnoticed, the controversial Marc Rich tweet even prompted the Clinton campaign to speculate if this was another broadside attack on Hillary by the FBI. “Absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd. Will FBI be posting docs on Trump’s housing discrimination in ’70s?” Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon asked on Twitter.

The strange tweets come days after James Comey released a letter revealing that the department was reviewing some emails that could be relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The Justice Department opposed release of the letter, arguing that it violated department protocols.

Since that time, there has been a series of leaks about FBI activity that appear to be designed to damage Hillary Clinton and benefit Donald Trump. An anonymous source for example, leaked to the Wall Street Journal that there was an investigation?—?including “secret recordings”?—?into the Clinton Foundation. The New York Times, also citing anonymous sources, reported that the FBI believed that Russia was just trying to disrupt the U.S. election, not help Donald Trump.

In the three days since the tweet, the FBI account has not communicated further. 

However, in a notable development, ThinkProgress reports that “it has learned that the FBI’s Inspection Division will undertake an investigation of the account.”

As TF reports, Candice Will, Assistant Director for the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, said she was referring the matter to the FBI’s Inspection Division for an “investigation.” Upon completion of the investigation, the Office of Professional Responsibility will be referred back to the Office of Professional Responsibility for “adjudication.”

Will was responding to a complaint from Jonathan Hutson, a former investigative reporter who now works in communication in Washington, DC. She did not respond to requests, via phone and email, for further comment.

Nancy McNamara, the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Inspection Division, also confirmed to Hutson that she had received the complaint. She copied Voviette Morgan, a 19-year veteran now serving as Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles office.

News of the internal investigation is at odds with the FBI’s official position, which is that the Twitter account followed all FBI procedures.

“Per the standard procedure for FOIA, these materials became available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI’s public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures,” the FBI said in a statement. 

What to make of all this? Perhaps just another odd coincidence, on the other hand in light of ongoing revelations from both WSJ and FOX exposing a full blown turf war between the FBI and DOJ, perhaps a “faction” within the FBI is indeed trying to “communicate” with the public using secondary means. In any case, keep a close eye on this particular Twitter account and for signs of more leaks from the Bureau if indeed the “mutiny” theory is accurate.


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