The FBI says it cannot release records of internal disciplinary reviews of investigators from the Crossfire Hurricane team because of “pending or prospective law enforcement proceedings,” according to a letter the bureau sent the Daily Caller News Foundation this week.
The DCNF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Feb. 9 for all referrals that the FBI submitted to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) as part of its review of the Crossfire Hurricane probe, which looked at the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia.
FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 5 that the FBI had referred all current employees mentioned in an inspector general’s (IG) report on Crossfire Hurricane to OPR for disciplinary review.
“Those people have all been referred to our disciplinary arm,” Wray testified.
The IG report said the Crossfire Hurricane team made 17 “significant” errors and omissions in applications to surveil former Trump aide Carter Page. Investigators withheld exculpatory evidence regarding Page and other Trump campaign aides, as well as information that undercut the credibility of the Steele dossier.
A federal judge who granted the surveillance orders accused the FBI of misleading the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Though the IG report faulted numerous FBI officials, agents, analysts and lawyers in its scathing report, only one lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith, has faced any charges for activities during Crossfire Hurricane.
Clinesmith, a former FBI attorney, pleaded guilty on Aug. 19 to altering an email from a CIA analyst regarding Carter Page in June 2017.
It is unclear which FBI personnel have been referred to OPR.
The head of the FBI’s information management division told the DCNF this week that the bureau is closing the FOIA request and withholding all of the OPR records.
“The records responsive to your request are law enforcement records; there is a pending or prospective law enforcement proceeding to these records, and release of the information could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings,” Michael G. Seidel, section chief for the information management division, said in the rejection letter.
“Therefore, your request is administratively closed.”
The FBI declined additional comment about the OPR records and what investigations might be under way saying that the bureau does not discuss FOIA requests.
The FBI’s rationale for rejecting the FOIA request could be an indication that more criminal investigations are underway than publicly known, though the bureau could also be using the ongoing Clinesmith prosecution to withhold other OPR reports.
Many of the Crossfire Hurricane members have either retired, resigned or been fired for reasons not directly related to the Trump probe.
Andrew McCabe was fired as deputy director for lying to investigators about his role authorizing a leak about the Clinton Foundation investigation. Peter Strzok was fired in August 2019 over anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page.
The IG report describes the actions of top FBI officials, including James Comey, McCabe, and Strzok. It also details the activities of special agents, attorneys, and intelligence analysts who worked on the investigation.
U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating aspects of Crossfire Hurricane. There is rampant speculation in Washington about whether he will issue any more indictments in the investigation.
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