The Daily Caller reports that Michael Kortan, who served as assistant director of public affairs for the FBI, displayed a “lack of candor” during multiple interviews under oath with the DOJ watchdog about how he obtained the tickets, who he went with, and whether he reimbursed the CNN journalist. The report “concluded that Kortan lacked candor under oath when he provided answers to OIG’s questions relating to the September 2016 tickets that were misleading and false.”
The Daily Caller obtained the report via FOIA request. FBI policy prohibits employees from receiving gifts from “prohibited sources,” including journalists who cover the bureau. The office of the inspector general (OIG) discovered Kortan’s contacts with the CNN reporter during a review of his text messages as part of the investigation into the FBI’s activities during the 2016 presidential election. The full investigative report shows that Kortan resigned from the FBI on Feb. 16, 2018, while the OIG investigation was ongoing. As part of the investigation, OIG investigators searched Kortan’s FBI-issued phones and email accounts, as well as his financial records. They also interviewed Washington Nationals security personnel to ascertain the quality of seats that Kortan was gifted.
Kortan worked closely with the CNN reporter, who is not identified, and considered him one of his “top five” press contacts. Kortan accepted Nationals tickets from the reporter at least twice, for a May 9, 2016 game and another on Sept. 30, 2016. He also accepted tickets from a New York Times reporter in either 2014 or 2016. The OIG report cites text messages which indicate that the FBI official attended the May 9, 2016 game with the reporter. The reporter contacted Kortan on Sept. 27, 2016, offering up four tickets. Kortan also gave a misleading answer when asked about the location of the tickets, the OIG report says. He initially said that the tickets — which cost $65 apiece — were in “general seating.”
Showing the depth of the probe, on Oct. 4, 2017, OIG investigators went to Nationals ballpark to meet with the team’s manager of security and executive director of ticket operations to ascertain the quality of the tickets. They found that the tickets were in a “Members Only” section, and not in general seating, as Kortan claimed. The investigation bears some resemblance into an investigation of Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director. The OIG found that McCabe displayed a “lack of candor” during multiple interviews about whether he authorized leaks to a reporter in October 2016 for a story about an investigation of the Clinton Foundation. McCabe directed his chief counsel, Lisa Page, to make contact with Devlin Barrett, who worked for the Wall Street Journal at the time. Kortan worked with Page to provide information to Barrett, according to FBI documents.