Priebus could have violated WH policy by speaking to FBI: report
© Getty Images

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus may have violated a White House policy last month when he asked the FBI to refute a New York Times report about President Trump's Russia ties, Politico reported Friday.

According to Politico, White House guidelines say that only the president, vice president and White House counsel can discuss certain investigations or cases with the attorney general, deputy attorney general, associate attorney general or solicitor general.

The document states that others must be designated by White House counsel or counsel must approve other procedures.

ADVERTISEMENT

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Politico that the conversation was allowed because it involved responding to a news article.

Priebus was reaching out to the FBI so they could correct part of a New York Times article that was inaccurate, White House officials told the newspaper, which reported that officials said Priebus was contacted by two FBI officials who said they couldn't comment on the article.

Previous White House lawyers, including former Obama ethics lawyer Norm Eisen and George W. Bush ethics lawyer Richard Painter, said they believed Priebus was violating the policy.

The policy is similar to one during the Obama administration, but Eisen told Politico the conduct suggests the policy isn't being enforced.

“They type nice-sounding phrases on paper but they don’t actually follow them,” Eisen said. “The treatment of the Reince contact is a perfect example — they’re making a mockery of this.”

Painter expanded on Eisen's point, adding that the policy isn't being made clear to White House staff.

“They didn’t make it clear these communications would be extremely rare, and not happen if persons inside the White House were affiliated with the entities being investigated,” Painter told the newspaper.

“We made it very clear: you don’t contact the Securities and Exchange Commission, you don’t contact the Federal Trade Commission, you don’t contact the Federal Election Commission — generally the White House stays out of particular-party matters.”