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Obama Investigators Tried Plugging SEC Leaks Twice, Failed

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EXCLUSIVE: Obama Investigators Tried Plugging SEC Leaks Twice, Failed
by Ethan Barton.

Federal investigators failed twice during President Barack Obama’s tenure to identify who leaked internal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) information to Reuters, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

The SEC’s Inspector General (IG) launched an investigation after Reuters published a story relying on an internal SEC document showing that 10 firms were under investigation for high-frequency trading, a report recently released through a Freedom of Information Act request shows.

The probe began about four months after a previous IG investigation seeking to plug leaks concluded.

“The investigation determined that nonpublic information was included in the July 17, 2014, Reuters article,” the report, which concluded a year later, said. Investigators were “unable to determine which specific individual(s) improperly disclosed information to Reuters based on the March 24, 2014 email.”

The IG interviewed 21 SEC officials and reviewed agency telephone and email records, but was still unable to determine the leaker.

“All employees advised they were not the source of the alleged leak and were unaware of who may have shared the nonpublic information,” the report said.

Similarly, the IG concluded another investigation into SEC leakers in March 2014, according to Reuters. The news outlet reported nonpublic information from a closed-door SEC meeting that resulted in a settlement with JPMorgan Chase & Co.

“A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission watchdog conducted an extensive, months-long investigation to find out who had leaked information that appeared in two Reuters stories published last autumn, but it was unable to identify the sources, according to a report of the probe seen by Reuters,” the news outlet reported July 31, 2014.

The watchdog interviewed 53 SEC officials and reviewed email and phone records, according to Reuters.

Reuters denied the IG’s request to interview reporters involved in the stories, the news outlet reported. Redactions make it difficult to determine if the IG requested an interview with Reuters for the 2014 report.

“It’s the job of journalists to report vigorously on the workings of government, and to provide readers with news that some may prefer to keep secret,” Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler said at the time. “It is in that spirit that Reuters covers the SEC and other agencies of the U.S. government, and we plan to continue to do so while protecting the confidentiality of our sources.”

Obama actively sought to plug leaks during his two terms in the White House. The Department of Justice (DOJ), for example, subpoenaed emails and phone records of Associated Press editors and reporters in 2013.

Obama’s DOJ – following in the Bush administration’s example – subpoenaed New York Times journalist James Risen to force him to reveal his sources, resulting in a seven-year legal battle, as another example. And Fox News reporter James Rosen was threatened with prosecution for accepting documents from a government source, also in 2013.

President Donald Trump has similarly called for investigations into intelligence leaks to the media, and recently asked about reporters being imprisoned for publishing classified information, according to the New York Times.

A spokesman for the SEC declined to comment for this story. Neither the SEC IG nor Reuters responded to TheDCNF’s requests for comment.

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