A former senior FBI official who oversaw a number of high-profile investigations before the 2016 election had dozens of unauthorized contacts with media members before he resigned, according to the Department of Justice's official watchdog.
Michael Steinbach, the FBI's former acting director of the counterterrorism division, oversaw cases that included the probe into Hillary Clinton's email server.
The DOJ Office of Inspector General (OIG) report shared with the New York Post said Steinbach had 27 in-person meetings with reporters from 2014-17. He also attended two black-tie dinners in Washington as a reporter's guest.
The report said Steinbach also had numerous lunches with journalists in Washington.
"The OIG notes that it was unable to determine who paid for the drinks or meals during these social engagements," said the report, which the Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The OIG report said Steinbach was "soliciting" a reporter from an unspecified outlet for a ticket to the 2015 White House Correspondents' Association dinner.
"Lots of [redacted] reporters here. May have to branch out!" Steinbach texted the unidentified reporter on the night of the 2015 Radio & Television Correspondents' dinner.
"Absolutely not!!! But curious to know who you've met so far?" the reporter responded, adding: "well 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 responded.
The report said Steinbach boasted to a CNN reporter about attending the $300-ticket 2016 White House Correspondents' Association dinner and a reception party as a guest of another reporter.
"I put you on the map and now you're cheating on me with [redacted]" the CNN reporter wrote in a text message to Steinbach.
"I kept waiting for my invite from you," Steinbach responded.
Following the event, Steinbach emailed a reporter with the subject "Great Night."
The message included a photo of an unidentified person standing with the journalist in front of the White House Correspondents' Association banner.
"Thanks for hanging out with us last night [redacted] and I had a great time. And also thank you for giving us a lift. That was nice," Steinbach wrote.
"I know it has been [sic] very busy year but when it slows down and as the weather gets nicer, we would love to grab [sic] or drinks with you and [redacted] either in the city somewhere or at our house," the email read, in part.
Another senior official told investigators that Steinbach told them that then-FBI Director James Comey, "was trying to change the way the FBI dealt with the media."
"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," the official said, according to the report.
Steinbach, who declined to be interviewed in the OIG investigation, resigned from the FBI in February 2017.
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