Agents aren’t supposed to share information from investigations.
On Thursday morning, White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci called in to CNN and had a meltdown about the “leak” of his publicly-available financial disclosure and the role White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is potentially playing in those leaks.
Later in the day, New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza, who was on CNN when Scaramucci called in, published an interview with him recounting a phone call they had on Wednesday, the day before.
The interview is shocking, in part because in it, Scaramucci calls Priebus a “fucking paranoid schizophrenic” and accuses the president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, of autofellatio. What got lost among the Scaramucci’s colorful language, however, is a very serious accusation regarding his conduct with the FBI.
After expressing his desire to “kill all leakers,” Scaramucci suggested that he has received intel from the FBI and the Department of Justice about who the White House leakers are.
“This is going to get cleaned up very shortly, O.K.? Because I nailed these guys. I’ve got digital fingerprints on everything they’ve done through the F.B.I. and the fucking Department of Justice,” said Scaramucci.
If what Scaramucci told Lizza is true, FBI agents would have violated the bureau’s protocol — and potentially the law. The FBI prohibits agents from sharing information found in their investigations with unauthorized individuals. Scaramucci hasn’t even started his job in the White House yet — his first day is in mid-August.
Ken White, a former federal prosecutor, told The Daily Beast that “[i]f an FBI agent turned over digital evidence demonstrating who did particular leaks, that would be wildly inappropriate,” and could be a felony “depending on the nature of the evidence and how it was acquired.”
If Scaramucci was being dishonest, however, that would do more damage to a fractured relationship between the White House and the FBI. Since the sudden firing of former FBI director James Comey in May, the Trump administration’s relationship with the bureau has been tense. Trump went after acting FBI director Andrew McCabe on Twitter on Thursday, suggesting his “beleaguered” Attorney General Jeff Sessions should have replaced McCabe because his wife received “big dollars” from Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe during her political bid for a state house seat.
Shortly after speaking with Lizza, Scaramucci posted a tweet that appeared to pin Priebus as the leaker. In it, he called leaking a “felony” (it is not) and said he would be contacting the FBI and the Department of Justice. Two hours later, it was deleted. Scaramucci later clarified on CNN he only tagged Priebus so that they could work together to stop White House leaks. Scaramucci added, “ If Reince wants to explain that he’s not a leaker, let him do that.”
Scaramucci accuses FBI of sharing intelligence with the White House was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.