A Senate committee hearing Monday on how the FBI and Justice Department handled the Hillary Clinton email probe leading up to the 2016 presidential election elicited a promise from FBI Director Christopher Wray that future investigations would be handled differently.
“We are going to hold accountable any employee for potential misconduct,” Wray said during the hearing, which was presided over by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Wray said misconduct has already been determined and referred to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the FBI’s independent disciplinary office.
“We are going to adhere to the disciplinary office that that process has, fairly, without delay, and once that process, once all the processes are complete, we will not hesitate to hold people accountable,” he said.
Wray and Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz were grilled by senators wanting answers on how the FBI managed the Clinton email probe and why she used a private, unsecured email account and server to perform official government business.
The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General released a 568-page report Thursday, which noted that five FBI officials engaged in political commentary in text messages, but noted that the political opinions in the texts did not affect the decisions that were reviewed in the probe, as The Daily Signal previously reported.
Wray said all FBI employees will be subjected to training to ensure fairness in future investigations.
“We are going to make sure that every FBI employee understands the lessons of this report through in-depth, focused training, starting first at the top with all of our senior executives from around the world, and then every FBI employee to make sure that we do not repeat the mistakes identified in this report,” Wray said.
The report included text messages from FBI official Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page in which Strzok essentially promised Page that the FBI would keep Donald Trump from winning the 2016 election.
During the hearing, Wray also promised that the FBI’s policies and procedures would be reformed.
“We are going to make sure that we have the policies, the procedures, and the training needed for everyone to understand and remember what is expected of all of us, that includes things like drilling home the importance of objectivity and avoiding even the appearance of potential bias and conflicts of interests in our work,” he said.
Wray said that these new or reformed policies would include “ensuring that recusals are handled appropriately and correctly and are clearly communicated to the right people,” as well as making clear to all FBI employees the agency’s policy with respect to the news media.
In his opening statement, Grassley said the FBI is losing trust with the American people because of the lack of accountability the agency has had in the Clinton email investigation.
“The Justice Department faces a serious credibility problem, because millions of Americans suspect there is a double standard,” the Iowa senator said. “They see a story of kid-glove treatment for one side and bare-knuckle tactics for the other.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., credited the mistakes made by the FBI to helping Trump win the election.
“If the FBI were trying to throw the election to Hillary Clinton, it could not have done a worse job,” Leahy said. “Every single misstep by the FBI damaged Hillary Clinton and helped Donald Trump.”