WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray said he accepts the finding of the Justice Department inspector general regarding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, and will “make sure every FBI employee understands the lessons of this report.”
“It’s also important, though, to note what the inspector general did not find. This report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper considerations actually impacting the investigation under review,” Wray told a press briefing at FBI headquarters. “The report does identify errors of judgment, violations of or even disregard for policy, and decisions that, at the very least, with the benefit of hindsight, were not the best choices.”
Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s long-awaited report found “extraordinary and insubordinate” actions by former FBI Director James Comey, specifically in not coordinating with the Justice Department in 2016 regarding decisions in the Clinton case.
While Horowitz determined that anti-Trump text messages, including previously undisclosed exchanges, between FBI agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page “cast a cloud” over the investigation, the IG found no evidence “that these political views directly affected the specific investigative decisions that we reviewed.”
“We searched for evidence that the Weiner laptop was deliberately placed on the back-burner by others in the FBI to protect Clinton, but found no evidence in emails, text messages, instant messages, or documents that suggested an improper purpose,” the report added.
Wray said “conduct highlighted in the report” has already been referred to the FBI’s disciplinary arm, the Office of Professional Responsibility.
“We’re going to train every single FBI employee, both new hires and veterans alike, on what went wrong so these mistakes won’t ever be repeated,” he said. “We’re going to make sure that we have the policies, the procedures and training that are needed for everyone to understand and remember what is expected of all of us. That includes drilling home the importance of objectivity, of avoiding the appearance of personal conflicts or political bias in our work; ensuring that recusals are handled correctly and effectively and communicated to all the right people; making all of our employees fully aware of our new policy on media contacts which I issues last November, and making painfully clear that we will not tolerate non-compliance; ensuring that we follow all DOJ policies on public statements about uncharged conduct or ongoing investigations; and ensuring that our employees adhere strictly to all policies and procedures about the use of FBI systems, networks and devices.”
Wray stressed that “nothing in this report impugns the integrity of our work force as a whole or the FBI as an institution.”
The women and men of the FBI are foiling terrorist plots, disrupting hackers, rescuing kids from child predators and arresting gang members, he said, “with the unfailing fidelity to the Constitution and the laws that it demands, the bravery that it calls for and the integrity that the American people rightly expect.”
Asked about criticism of the Bureau from some in Congress, Wray acknowledged “there’s no shortage of opinions about us out there.”
“I will tell you that the opinions that I care the most about are the opinions of the people who actually really know us and know us through our work,” he said. “…We have the highest number of applicants we’ve ever had for our honors intern program. Want to know what that admission rate was? Five percent. I look at things like that, I look at what people think when they know us, and I look at what people think when they express their views through their as actions.”
“I look at our attrition rate, our attrition rate in the agent population in the FBI is 0.8 percent. So in my view, the views that matter, the opinions that matter are the views that people who know us through our work, and when I go around the country and around the world and I talk to our partners and I talk to the victims and I talk to the people who know us, our brand’s doing just fine there.”
Pressed on Trump’s past year of attacks on the credibility of the FBI and whether the IG report “now validates his criticisms,” Wray replied, “I’m not going to comment on any other person’s opinion no matter where they’re communicated. What I am going to do is talk about the opinions that I think matter.”