The FBI has launched an internal investigation into one of its own Twitter accounts.
The account at issue, @FBIRecordsVault, had been dormant for more than a year. Then on October 30 at 4 a.m., the account released a flood of documents, including one describing Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump as a “philanthropist.”
Fred C. Trump: Fred C. Trump (1905-1999) was a real estate developer and philanthropist. This release consists of… https://t.co/21KgtPpmzk
— FBI Records Vault (@FBIRecordsVault) October 30, 2016
But it wasn’t until two days later, when the account tweeted documents regarding President Bill Clinton’s controversial pardon of Marc Rich, that the account began to attract significant attention.
William J. Clinton Foundation: This initial release consists of material from the FBI's files related to the Will… https://t.co/Y4nz3aRSmG
— FBI Records Vault (@FBIRecordsVault) November 1, 2016
The account has not been active since that tweet.
ThinkProgress has learned that the FBI’s Inspection Division will undertake an investigation of the account.
Candice Will, Assistant Director for the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, said she was referring the matter to the FBI’s Inspection Division for an “investigation.” Upon completion of the investigation, the findings will be referred back to the the Office of Professional Responsibility for “adjudication.”
Federal law and FBI policy prohibit employees from using the power of the department to attempt to influence elections.
Will was responding to a complaint from Jonathan Hutson, a former investigative reporter who now works in communication in Washington, DC. She did not respond to requests, via phone and email, for further comment.
Nancy McNamara, the Assistant Director of the FBI’s Inspection Division, also confirmed to Hutson that she had received the complaint. She copied Voviette Morgan, a 19-year veteran now serving as Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles office.
News of the internal investigation is at odds with the FBI’s official position, which is that the Twitter account followed all FBI procedures.
“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,” the FBI said in a statement.
The strange tweets come days after James Comey released a letter revealing that the department was reviewing some emails that could be relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The Justice Department opposed release of the letter, arguing that it violated department protocols.
Since that time, there has been a series of leaks about FBI activity that appear to be designed to damage Hillary Clinton and benefit Donald Trump. An anonymous source for example, leaked to the Wall Street Journal that there was an investigation — including “secret recordings” — into the Clinton Foundation. The New York Times, also citing anonymous sources, reported that the FBI believed that Russia was just trying to disrupt the U.S. election, not help Donald Trump.