The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it is launching an “internal investigation” over a stream of Tweets sent from a long-dormant “FBI Records Vault” Twitter account.
Heat Street was first to notice the Tweets, which began to appear early Sunday morning. After laying dormant for years(since at least 2012), the account suddenly tweeted a link to an FBI investigation of Donald Trump’s father, Fred Trump.
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
Early Tuesday morning, the account referenced a 2005 scandal involving Bill Clinton and Democratic mega-donor Marc Rich, who received an eleventh hour presidential pardon from Bill Clinton in 2000. The FBI, apparently, conducted a thorough investigation of the pardon over the course of several years, from 2000 to 2005.
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 FBI initially said that the Twitter account was aboveboard, and that it represented their response to a FOIA request for the Marc Rich documents. “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,” their statement read.
But soon after, questions began to surface about the Records Vault Twitter account (the feed has returned to being dormant), and whether it had been hacked. After all, an inquiry into Marc Rich’s pardon and documents about Fred Trump are unlikely to be the only FOIA requests currently being handled by the FB—yet they were the only two links tweeted by the FBI account in the last four years.
The Assistant Director of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility told Think Progress that the matter had been referred to the FBI’s “inspection division.” Federal law prohibits FBI agents from interfering in political campaigns, at least in an official capacity. Further reports confirm that the FBI did, indeed, receive a complaint about the Twitter account and that it is investigating.
News organizations are already connecting the sudden Twitter releases with a larger conspiracy within the FBI, implicating FBI director James Comey in what they believe is a coordinated attack by DOJ partisans on Hillary Clinton. If the FBI investigation reveals that an employee was, indeed, responsible for suddenly reactivating the account, it would certainly give weight to those claims.
Comey’s present position is that an investigation into additional emails found on the computer of Huma Abedin, a top Hillary aide, has been brewing since early October, but that the FBI waited to see if the emails held anything new before re-launching their probe.