Bipartisan Senate group presses FBI over reports agents broke rules hundreds of times
"The sheer number of FBI investigations that failed to comply... suggests a pattern and practice of evading the rules," the senators said.
Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Judiciary Ranking member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wrote letters Monday pressing the Department of Justice for answers after an internal FBI audit found that agents violated rules at least hundreds of times over a year and a half.
A 2019 report published by The Washington Times earlier this month shows that of the 353 sensitive FBI cases audited, there were 747 "compliance errors," making it a ratio of slightly more than two problems per case.
Errors included agents' failure to get approval from FBI officials to begin an investigation and failure to communicate with prosecutors and create the proper pre-investigation documentation. The investigations targeted political candidates and religious and political groups, among others.
"These widespread and apparently systemic violations of approval and notification requirements make clear that the FBI has failed to rigorously adhere to the DIOG," or the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide, Durbin and Grassley wrote in their letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
"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," they said.
Grassley and Durbin asked Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz to conduct another audit on the FBI's compliance with agency requirements for sensitive investigations.
"Due to the nature of their subjects, these investigations present heightened constitutional and civil liberties concerns and therefore merit greater scrutiny and supervision," the senators 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," they stated.
Grassley has questioned the DOJ about Crossfire Hurricane before. He and Sen. Ron, R-Wis., Johnson sent a letter last month asking Attorney General Merrick Garland to declassify records related to the operation after then-President Donald Trump ordered the documents' release while he was in office.