DOJ Inspector General’s office says employee leaked draft report to media, then resigned during probe

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The Department of Justice’s Inspector General’s office announced Wednesday that one of their own employee’s leaked a draft report to the media that included non-public information.

The IG’s office said that after they saw reporting about the leaked document, they referred the matter to the Integrity Committee of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency for investigation. While that committee declined to investigate because there were no allegations against anyone under their jurisdiction, they subsequently chose another Inspector General’s office to hold an independent probe.

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“The independent investigation conducted by the other Office of Inspector General concluded that a then DOJ OIG employee was responsible for sensitive, non-public information from and about the then ongoing DOJ OIG review, including information from the draft DOJ OIG report, being provided on several occasions to various media outlets prior to completion and official public release of DOJ OIG’s final report, and that the employee did so without authorization from DOJ OIG,” the DOJ Office of the Inspector General’s investigative summary said.

Fox News later learned following a Freedom of Information Act request that the investigation the employee had discussed with the media had to do with the Trump administration’s “Zero Tolerance” border policy which led to mass crossing detentions and separations of families until then-President Donald Trump called for an end to the practice.

Articles based on the draft report were published in the New York Times and NBC News.

The Department of Justice building in Washington

The Department of Justice building in Washington
(iStock)

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That investigation included a review of the now-former DOJ Inspector General employee’s phone records, which “reflected numbers and lengthy phone conversations between the then DOJ OIG employee and reporters at the media outlets during the time period in which articles were published about the then ongoing DOJ OIG review.”

The probe also showed, according to the summary, that the worker “abruptly resigned” right before they and other employees “were asked to submit sworn answers to a questionnaire regarding the unauthorized disclosures to the media.”

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The now-former employee was the only one not to answer questions, and they refused to be interviewed by investigators after their resignation, the DOJ IG’s office said, noting that they do not have subpoena power over former employees, even those who resign during investigations .

The investigation ultimately determined that the now-former employee violated office policy and federal ethics regulations. Because the ex-employee is a lawyer, the office that conducted the probe also submitted its appropriate report to the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility “for action.”

Through his attorney, the individual in question told the IG’s office that he “denies in the strongest possible terms disclosing sensitive non-public information… with members of the media.”

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