WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is determined to not repeat any of the mistakes identified in a harshly critical watchdog report on the handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Director Chris Wray said Monday at a congressional hearing.
Wray said the FBI accepts the findings of the Justice Department inspector general report and has begun making changes, including about how the FBI handles especially sensitive investigations. The bureau is also reinforcing for employees the need to avoid the appearance of political bias, a key point of criticism in last week’s report.
“We’re going to learn from the report and be better as a result,” Wray said.
The report last week blasted FBI actions during the 2016 investigation into whether Clinton had mishandled classified information on her private email server. The report said anti-Donald Trump text messages exchanged by FBI employees who worked on the investigation cast a cloud on the agency’s handling of the probe and damaged its reputation. It also said that fired FBI Director James Comey repeatedly broke from Justice Department and refused to listen to his bosses.
But the report found that political bias didn’t taint investigative actions, including Comey’s decision to close the investigation into Clinton without bringing charges.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who joined Wray at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Monday, said there are lessons to be learned from the 500-page report, including the importance of respecting an institution’s hierarchy and norms.
“No rule, policy or practice is perfect,” Horowitz said. “But at the same time, neither is any individual’s ability to make judgments under pressure or what may seem like unique circumstances.”
The Republican committee chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, drew a contrast between what he said were aggressive actions taken during special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and the “kid-glove treatment” that Grassley maintained had occurred during the Clinton investigation.
“The Justice Department faces a serious credibility problem because millions of Americans suspect that there is a double standard,” Grassley said. “They see a story of kid-glove treatment for one side and bare-knuckle tactics for the other. They see politics in that story.”