October 16, 2018 / 4:09 PM / a month ago

REFILE-Senior FBI official improperly accepted gifts from reporter-report

(Refiles to change to “report” from “reporter” in paragraph 3)

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON, Oct 16 (Reuters) - An unnamed senior official at the FBI improperly accepted tickets to professional sporting events and later misled investigators when confronted about it, the Justice Department’s internal watchdog said Tuesday.

The FBI official, who resigned from the agency during the probe, initially told the inspector general’s office under oath that the tickets had been paid for, but later admitted they were not.

The reporter who offered the tickets to the FBI official is a television news correspondent who regularly covers the Justice Department and the FBI, the report said. The report did not name the correspondent.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report’s findings.

The two-page report, released on Tuesday by Inspector General Michael Horowitz, stems from a much broader investigation into the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

That investigation, released in a 500-plus page report in June, sharply rebuked former FBI Director James Comey for announcing his decision shortly before the election to reopen the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

It also was critical of former top FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was later fired, for sending politically charged text messages that disparaged President Donald Trump and other politicians.

At the time the report was released, it said the inspector general’s office had several other investigations that were still ongoing involving FBI employees who “received tickets to sporting events from journalists, went on golfing outings with media representatives, were treated to drinks and meals after work by reporters, and were guests of journalists at non public social events.”

Tuesday’s report about the unnamed FBI official marks the first of those follow-up investigations to be publicly released.

The report said that prosecutors had declined to press charges against the official.

By contrast, however, prosecutors earlier this year convened a grand jury to weigh whether to bring criminal charges against former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March.

McCabe, like the official in Tuesday’s report, was accused by the inspector general’s office of lacking candor during an interview under oath into whether he improperly gave information to news media.

McCabe has denied intentionally misleading investigators and said he believes he is being targeted because he is a crucial witness into whether Trump tried to obstruct the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. (Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch)

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