In the last days of a bizarre US election season, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is playing an unprecedented starring role.
Think Progress reports that FBI’s Inspection Division is launching an internal investigation into one of its own verified Twitter accounts, @FBIRecordsVault. The account, run by unknown personnel within the agency, released a trove of documents tangentially related to the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump over the past week.
The documents were released just days after a bombshell announcement from FBI director James Comey that the agency was looking at newly uncovered Clinton emails as part of its previously closed investigation into her handling of classified material while secretary of state.
@FBIRecordsVault, which describes itself as “the official FBI Records Management Division Twitter,” had last tweeted on Oct 8, 2015. Then, on Oct. 30, 2016 it released a document about Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump describing him as a “real estate developer and philanthropist.”
The documents attached include a letter dated March 1966 from the bureau to the office of the deputy attorney general and a heavily marked-up newspaper article about the political donations of local businessmen in New York that mention Trump as a top contributor.
That same day it also released a link to documents about Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server.
Two days later, the account tweeted a link to 129 pages of documents regarding the FBI’s 2001 investigation into president Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
The Clinton campaign’s press secretary criticized the decision to release these documents days before the election.
On Nov. 1, the FBI said in a statement that the twitter account was following standard procedure:
The FBI’s Records Management Division receives thousands of FOIA requests annually which are processed on a first in, first out (FIFO) basis. By law, FOIA materials that have been requested three or more times are posted electronically to the FBI’s public reading room shortly after they are processed. Per the standard procedure for FOIA, these materials became available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI’s public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures.
However, Candice Will, assistant director for the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, told Think Progress today that she was referring the incident to the FBI’s Inspection Division for an investigation, after which her office would adjudicate. Nancy McNamara, the assistant director of the FBI’s Inspection Division, confirmed that she had received the complaint.
The bureau was responding to a complaint from Jonathan Hutson, a former investigative reporter who now works as a strategic communications consultant based in Washington DC.
The FBI has also been feuding internally over investigations of the Clinton Foundation, according to the Wall Street Journal.