March 28, 2022

Durbin, Grassley Press FBI on Reports of Widespread Rule-Breaking in Sensitive Investigations

According to a newly publicized internal audit, FBI agents violated agency rules at least 747 times in 18 months while conducting investigations involving political candidates, public officials, religious and political groups, and other sensitive matters

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today requested information and an independent Inspector General review following a newly publicized 2019 Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) audit that revealed widespread violations of internal FBI policies governing investigations of political candidates, public officials, religious and political groups, and other sensitive matters.  As reported by The Washington Times, the internal review revealed a ratio of slightly more than two rule violations per sensitive investigative matter reviewed by FBI auditors—including agents’ failure to obtain approval from senior FBI officials to start an investigation, failure to conduct a necessary legal review before opening an investigation, and failure to tell prosecutors what they were doing.  In light of these new revelations, the Senators sent a letter to FBI Director Chris Wray to seek more information on the 2019 audit, as well as a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) to request an independent review of the FBI’s widespread violations of its Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG).

In the letter to FBI Director Wray, the Senators requested an unredacted copy of the 2019 audit and a detailed explanation of what remedial steps, if any, the FBI has taken in response to its findings.

“These widespread and apparently systemic violations of approval and notification requirements make clear that the FBI has failed to rigorously adhere to the DIOG,” Durbin and Grassley wrote.  “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.”

In a letter to Inspector General Horowitz, the Senators requested an additional audit of the FBI’s compliance with the DIOG’s requirements for conducting sensitive investigative matters (SIMs).

“Due to the nature of their subjects, these investigations present heightened constitutional and civil liberties concerns and therefore merit greater scrutiny and supervision,” Durbin and Grassley wrote.  “Accordingly, we ask that the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) perform an additional audit of the FBI’s compliance with the DIOG’s requirements for conducting SIMs. Among other things, the audit should address the FBI’s compliance with relevant requirements during SIMs pending from July 2019 to the present day, including additional SIM-related guidance and requirements imposed by the FBI in response to OIG’s December 2019 report regarding Crossfire Hurricane.”

Full text of the letter to FBI Director Wray is available here.

Full text of the letter to Inspector General Horowitz is available here.

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