Director: FBI won't repeat mistakes noted in watchdog report
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 today at a congressional hearing at which he repeatedly sought to distance himself from his predecessor.
Wray told lawmakers the FBI accepted the findings of the Office of the Inspector General report and has begun making changes, including about how it handles especially sensitive investigations, like the Clinton one.
The FBI is also reinforcing through employee training the need to avoid the appearance of political bias, a key point of criticism in last week's report, and has referred employees singled out in the report to the agency's investigative arm for possible discipline.
"The OIG's report makes clear that we have significant work to do and as I said we're going to learn from the report and be better as a result," Wray said, even as multiple Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee pounced on the report's findings to allege rampant bias within the FBI.
The department's inspector general, Michael Horowitz, appeared alongside Wray and repeated the report's central conclusions the Clinton investigation was plagued by leadership missteps but not tainted by political bias.
The report blasted FBI actions during the 2016 investigation into whether Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, had mishandled classified information on her private email server when she was secretary of state.
It 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 protocol, including when he publicly announced his recommendation against charging Clinton and when he bucked the judgment of Justice Department bosses by alerting Congress months later the investigation was being reopened because of newly discovered emails.
Republicans, increasingly skeptical of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and Trump's Republican presidential campaign, said they weren't convinced by the report's conclusion the decision to spare Clinton from criminal charges was free from bias, or by reassurances the problems were limited to just a handful of employees.