Corruption, cont'd: Comey spox got gifts from CNN and NYT, lied to investigators

Corruption, cont'd: Comey spox got gifts from CNN and NYT, lied to investigators

Alert Jeff Daniels! James Comey’s FBI apparently suffered an epidemic lack of candor, as well as unreported media contacts. An earlier inspector general report got Comey’s deputy Andrew McCabe fired for both issues, and potentially prosecuted for obstructing an investigation into leaks. Comey himself has been spinning the truth at best for two-plus years, another probe concluded.  And now a new IG report has concluded that Comey spokesperson Michael Kortan repeatedly lied to investigators about an unreported gift from CNN and NYT reporters, the Daily Caller reported earlier today:

The FBI’s top press officer during the Hillary Clinton and Trump-Russia investigations accepted tickets to a Washington Nationals game from a CNN correspondent and lied about it repeatedly during interviews with the Justice Department’s inspector general, according to a report obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Michael Kortan, who served as assistant director of public affairs, displayed a “lack of candor” during multiple interviews under oath with the DOJ watchdog about how he obtained the tickets, who he went with, and whether he reimbursed the CNN journalist, according to the report.

“The OIG…concluded that Kortan lacked candor under oath when he provided answers to OIG’s questions relating to the September 2016 tickets that were misleading and false,” reads the report, which the DCNF obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

Here’s the summary from the OIG’s conclusions, which will also appear on Michael Horowitz’ “pre-election review,” a public version of which is expected shortly:

At first, Kortan insisted that he had reimbursed both reporters for the tickets, and at one time produced an ATM receipt for a cash withdrawal as indirect proof. Later, however, Kortan reversed himself and said that he and the CNN reporter had decided that he didn’t need to reimburse because Kortan had not stayed through the rain delay to actually watch the game. Needless to say, the OIG did not buy that “logic,” nor did they buy Kortan’s series of shifting explanations for the tickets, his guest at one of the games, and especially why the gifts never got reported.

Kortan also alleges consistently that he never disclosed information to media outlets in exchange for the gifts. The IG never finds any evidence that Kortan lied about this, but it certainly looks suspicious. After all, McCabe was certainly leaking to the media in the same time frame, and James Comey himself was using his friend-cum-attorney as a cutout for the New York Times as well. If Kortan somehow refrained from feeding reporters information, he might have been the only one in Comey’s office to do so. Clearly, though, that’s what the reporters in question were attempting to wheedle out of Kortan with these baseball games and season tickets.

The OIG referred this to the Department of Justice for potential prosecution, which was apparently declined. One can understand why William Barr might have decided against it without an established quid pro quo. However, that might trip up attempts to prosecute McCabe later, and perhaps even call into question the obstruction cases Robert Mueller built against George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn. After all, the quid pro quo in those cases looks pretty murky in retrospect, no?

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