Oversight of FBI and DOJ Actions Surrounding the 2016 Election
Introduction and Importance of Oversight
Good morning Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, and members of the committee. Thanks for this opportunity to discuss the FBI’s response to the inspector general’s report on DOJ and FBI activities in the run-up to the 2016 election.
We take the report very seriously, and accept its findings and recommendations. We’re already addressing those recommendations, and we’re determined to emerge better and wiser.
The FBI is entrusted with a lot of authority, so our actions are subject to close oversight. That oversight can make the FBI stronger—and the public safer. Part of that oversight includes fulsome responses to legitimate oversight requests for documents and information. For months, we have been working with your committees to make witnesses available, answer questions, and produce or make available to you and your staff over 830,000 pages.
Although we have now substantially complied with a majority of the committee’s subpoena, we are determined to get through the outstanding items and we have increased staffing on this project even further. In just the past week, for example, we’ve had approximately 100 employees dedicated to this project, working day and night, and through the weekend, to collect, review, process, and produce thousands of additional pages.
FBI Actions in Response to IG Report
Although the IG’s report did not find any evidence of political bias or improper consideration actually impacting the investigation under review, the report did identify errors of judgment, violations of or disregard for policy, and decisions that, at the very least, were not the best choices
I’d like to briefly summarize the steps we’re taking to address the report’s recommendations.
First: We’re holding employees accountable for misconduct. We’ve referred conduct highlighted in the report to the Office of Professional Responsibility, our independent disciplinary office. Once the necessary process is complete, we won’t hesitate to hold people strictly accountable for their actions.
Second: We’re making sure that every employee understands the lessons of this report through in-depth training—starting with our executives—so we don’t repeat mistakes identified in the report.
Third: We’re making sure we have the policies, procedures, and training needed for everyone to understand and remember what’s expected of us. That includes:
- Drilling home the importance of objectivity—and of avoiding even the appearance of personal conflicts or political bias;
- Ensuring recusals are handled correctly;
- Making all employees aware of our new media policy, which I issued last November—and making clear that we won’t tolerate non-compliance;
- Ensuring that we follow DOJ policies about public statements on ongoing investigations and uncharged conduct; and
- Ensuring that we adhere strictly to all policies and procedures on the use of FBI systems, networks, and devices.
I’ve also directed our new associate deputy director to lead a review of how we staff, structure, and supervise sensitive investigations, so that each one is conducted to our highest standards.
The IG report makes clear we have some work to do. But I want to emphasize that this report is focused on a specific set of events in 2016, and a small number of employees connected with those events. Nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution.
I want to be very clear about the FBI that I’ve seen up close. As I meet with our offices around the world, I encounter really remarkable, inspiring stories of the work our 37,000 men and women are doing every single day. We’ve rescued more than 1,300 kids from child predators this year. We’ve arrested more than 4,600 violent gang members in just the past few months. We’ve recently disrupted terrorist plots ranging from Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco to a crowded shopping mall in Miami. I could go on and on.
Our men and women are doing all this work with the unfailing fidelity to our Constitution and laws that it demands, he bravery that it deserves, and the integrity that the American people rightly expect.
I’m committed to doing this job, in every respect, by the book, and I expect all our employees to do the same. That means following our rules, following the law, following our longstanding norms. There will be times when we feel extraordinary pressure to not follow our process and policies, but those are precisely the times when we need to adhere to them the most.
We’ve got to stay faithful to our core values and best traditions. Making sure we’re not only doing the right thing, but doing it in the right way. And pursuing the facts independently and objectively, no matter who likes it. That’s the only way to maintain trust and credibility with the people we serve.
Chairman Goodlatte, Ranking Member Nadler, and committee members, thank you again for the opportunity to address the inspector general’s report. I look forward to answering the committee’s questions.