Posted BY: Tim Pearce

Former FBI official Michael Steinbach repeatedly violated federal law and bureau policy in inappropriate interactions with members of the media while overseeing the discredited investigation into former President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia.

Steinbach was named the FBI’s executive assistant director of its National Security Bureau in February 2016, five months before the FBI launched the Crossfire Hurricane investigation into the Trump presidential campaign. Steinbach played a leading role in overseeing the investigation. He abruptly resigned from the bureau in February 2017.

Steinbach “had numerous unauthorized contacts with the media” beginning before his ascension to executive assistant director and continuing after, according to a Department of Justice Inspector General report obtained by the New York Post.

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According to the official watchdog report, Steinbach leveraged his relationship with a reporter to score a $300 ticket to the White House Correspondents’ Association gala in 2016. Steinbach also received an invitation from a reporter to the 2015 Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association dinner.

Steinbach’s texts with reporters were relayed in the Inspector General report with some redactions. “Lots of [redacted] reporters here. May have to branch out!” Steinbach wrote to one journalist.

“Absolutely not!!! But curious to know who you’ve met so far?” the reporter responded. “[W]ell they will never be as good as me! and don’t you get the big head! ;)”

“But they are promising the WH Correspondents dinner,” Steinbach said back, according to the Post.

Steinbach’s correspondence with reporters outside of the bounds of FBI policy continued for several years.

“Steinbach had hundreds of contacts with the media for several years,” the report said, according to Politico. “This media contact included social engagements outside of FBI headquarters without any coordination from Office of Public Affairs (OPA), involving drinks, lunches and dinners.”

The report stated that the FBI’s policy on media was “unambiguous.” An FBI official interviewed by the inspector general said that the policy as espoused by former FBI Director James Comey was much more flexible, however.

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Comey was “was trying to change the way the FBI dealt with the media,” the official told the inspector general. “I think Director Comey, more than any director I ever heard, fully understood the concept that we’re only as good as our ability to listen to information with people.”

“And when you take your credentials out, it needs to mean something. And the only way to do that is to have the trust. And the only way to get the trust is to have good will and the media is part of that, right?” the official said.

The report notes that “[p]rosecution was declined.”