Rudy Giuliani has admitted to Department of Justice investigators that he was bullshitting when, in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, he said in a radio interview that he’d heard “rumors” about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails from “active” FBI agents.
The president’s personal lawyer admitted in a voluntary interview with the DOJ’s inspector general that “he had not been in contact with any active FBI agents in October 2016, and stated that he had only spoken with former agents who did not have any direct or indirect knowledge of FBI investigations in October 2016,” inspector general wrote in a report released Thursday, almost five years after the saga.
In a Fox News interview on October 26, 2016, Giuliani had teased that then-presidential candidate Donald Trump had some tricks up his sleeve that would elate his supporters. “I think he’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises,” he said.
Just two days later, then-FBI Director James Comey dropped a pre-election bombshell by announcing that the agency would reopen its inquiry into whether Hillary Clinton had mishandled classified information. Republicans seized on the opportunity to smear Trump’s opponent.
Giuliani gloated about it on a radio show that same day, saying he was hearing “rumors” from “active” FBI agents that they supported Comey’s decision to backtrack and reopen the email probe.
But in subsequent interviews with the DOJ Office of the Inspector General, which had launched a probe into possible FBI leaks, Giuliani admitted it was just hot air.
His chats had amounted to “gossip” about Comey’s decision-making, and the “active” agents he referred to were just retired FBI agents actively working in security and consulting, he told the OIG.
Giuliani later claimed that the “surprise” he had been referring to was a speech Trump would deliver before the election that would derail Clinton and had been unrelated to Comey’s announcement.
The inspector general did investigate leads provided by the FBI that four of its employees had contact with Giuliani during the time period in question. It found that some of the employees had used their work devices to contact a general line for a New York law office at which Giuliani was a partner but, because the number was not specific to Giuliani, there was no evidence that the agents were trying to contact him, the report notes. The employees also denied in interviews that they had been in contact with Giuliani.
The inspector general also found that two of the phone numbers used by the employees were “for businesses at which Giuliani had not been affiliated since at least 2007.”
“Accordingly, the purported investigative leads provided by the FBI based on alleged FBI employee contacts with Giuliani were inaccurate,” the report says.
Since there were so many FBI employees “at all levels of the organization” who had contacts with reporters during the 2016 presidential election debacle, it was “exceptionally challenging” for the inspector general to identify the source of a leak. Not only were “dozens” of FBI agents identifiable through their contacts with reporters because they used FBI-issued devices, but many others in the agency had access to information that was supposed to be shielded from public view, the report said.
Efforts to investigate potential leaks were also hindered by a gap in the FBI’s messaging data from 2016 and an inability to recover suspected employees’ old phones.
A review of messages that investigators were able to get their hands on didn’t provide information that showed any of the employees were the source of leaks to reporters about certain ongoing criminal investigations in 2016.