Senators Demand Explanation About FBI Investigation Lapses
WASHINGTON — High-ranking members of the Senate are calling on the FBI to explain what appear to be a series of blunders in the agency’s recent investigations of political officials and organizations.
A newly revealed internal audit from 2019 said the FBI averaged two rule violations for each politically sensitive investigation.
The violations included agents failing to get approval from supervisors to start an investigation, failing to obtain proper legal clearances and not keeping prosecutors informed.
Leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter this week to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking what is being done about the problems.
“These widespread and apparently systemic violations of approval and notification requirements make clear that the FBI has failed to rigorously adhere to the [Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide],” the letter said.
“The sheer number of FBI investigations that failed to comply with the DIOG’s rules suggests a pattern and practice of evading the rules, which consequently opens the door for political and other improper considerations to infect the investigative decision-making process,” it said.
The letter was sent by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the committee’s ranking member.
Justice Department and FBI policies require federal agents to designate investigations involving public officials, political candidates, religious or political organizations or their leaders, the news media and other similarly sensitive matters as “sensitive investigative matters.”
In those cases, the agents are required to follow procedures in the FBI’s internally-generated DIOG. The guide is supposed to steer the FBI away from cases ending in prosecutions that are politically motivated, rather than based on the same kind of evidence and criteria as other criminal cases.
The senators warned about the risks in the part of their letter that said, “Due to the nature of their subjects, these investigations present heightened constitutional and civil liberties concerns and therefore merit greater scrutiny and supervision.”
The audit was based on an FBI inspection division’s review of the agency’s cases between Jan. 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019.
It found that agents violated FBI rules at least 747 times during the 18-month period reviewed.
Examples of violations identified in the audit include:
- In 45 investigations, the FBI did not conduct a legal review before opening a politically sensitive investigation.
- In 40 investigations, FBI agents who opened a politically sensitive investigation did not obtain approval from a special agent in charge or assistant special agent in charge.
- In 250 cases — 70% of those audited — the relevant FBI field office did not notify the U.S. Attorney’s Office within 30 days of opening a politically sensitive investigation, and in 46 cases the FBI field office did not notify FBI headquarters within 15 days.
- In dozens of cases, FBI headquarters or the Justice Department were not notified of intrusive investigative steps, such as search warrants and wiretaps.
The Judiciary Committee leaders sent a second letter to the Justice Department’s inspector general asking for a follow-up audit.
FBI officials have so far declined to comment.
Tom can be reached at email@example.com
In The News
WASHINGTON — Three female protesters were arrested Wednesday at the Supreme Court after interrupting a hearing to denounce the recent... Read More
WASHINGTON — Three female protesters were arrested Wednesday at the Supreme Court after interrupting a hearing to denounce the recent Dobbs decision that eliminated a constitutional right to abortion. The women stood up one after the other during the first minute of an unrelated tax case... Read More
WASHINGTON — After a review of last Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Tuesday... Read More
WASHINGTON — After a review of last Friday’s attack on Paul Pelosi, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said Tuesday that that more resources are needed to provide additional layers of security for Members of Congress in today’s political climate. In a written statement, Manger said... Read More
WASHINGTON — U.S. security agencies are on heightened alert this week approaching the midterm elections on Nov. 8. The Department... Read More
WASHINGTON — U.S. security agencies are on heightened alert this week approaching the midterm elections on Nov. 8. The Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin after Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was attacked in their home on Friday and, in... Read More
BALTIMORE — Maryland’s attorney general is ordering an audit of autopsies of people who died in law enforcement custody after... Read More
BALTIMORE — Maryland’s attorney general is ordering an audit of autopsies of people who died in law enforcement custody after a panel of experts determined the lab reports might have been tainted by political favoritism. The review will cover 100 autopsies in Maryland between 2002 and... Read More
WASHINGTON — Tony Payne, 80, of Tunnel Hill, Georgia, is facing multiple gun charges Thursday morning after he illegally parked... Read More
WASHINGTON — Tony Payne, 80, of Tunnel Hill, Georgia, is facing multiple gun charges Thursday morning after he illegally parked his van on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. U.S. Capitol police officers first noticed the white van was illegally parked on the 100... Read More
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Russian public policy analyst is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria,... Read More
ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A Russian public policy analyst is scheduled to go on trial Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, on charges of lying to the FBI during the 2016 investigation of whether the Russian government tried to help Donald Trump get elected president. Igor... Read More