This tidbit from yesterday’s congressional hearings is well worth considering — and raises questions on its own. FBI Director Christopher Wray assured Congress that he takes the Inspector General report seriously, especially in its exposure of misconduct by senior FBI officials and other agents. Wray pledged to ensure that “we don’t repeat the mistakes identified in this report,” but offered few explanations as to why it took IG Michael Horowitz to identify them in the first place (via Twitchy):
— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 18, 2018
Wray says that the FBI plans to hold accountable “any employee for potential misconduct” to the DOJ Office of Professional Responsibility and carry out any disciplinary actions “without delay.”
“We will not hesitate to hold people accountable,” said Wray. He added, “We won’t hesitate to throw the book at people who violate” FBI policies.
He said that moving forward, the FBI will make sure every employee, from agent to senior executives, “understands the lessons of this report through in-depth focused training” to make sure “we don’t repeat the mistakes identified in this report.”
Well, okay, but why did it take an IG report to get a fire lit under Wray at this stage? The continuing employment of Peter Strzok is a perfect example of the problem. His expressed animus for Donald Trump and advocacy for Hillary Clinton in official and unofficial forums while participating in investigations of both were enough for Robert Mueller to remove him from the special counsel team. The text message, “we’ll stop it,” was known to the FBI well ahead of the release of this IG report.
If Wray isn’t hesitating to hold people accountable, why is Strzok still employed by the FBI? As Michael Horowitz told the House Oversight Committee today, even the suggestion that a high-ranking FBI agent would consider using his authority to impact an election is “antithetical” to an apolitical enforcement of the law. Horowitz also acknowledged that Strzok’s communications, and those of Lisa Page and three others involved in these conversations, created a “cloud” over both investigations that cannot easily be dismissed.
So far, the answer Wray has to this is … “in-depth focused training.” How many PowerPoint slides will the FBI need to use to convince agents not to try to impress their mistresses with their abilities to throw elections? (Over-under: Five, with animated graphics.) That simply won’t cut it, as former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson wryly noted after Wray’s testimony:
Poor FBI — agents who had nothing to do with the improper behavior will have to take a "full day of training" to learn things like: Don't use work texts with your mistress to conspire to use your official position to impact a presidential election.
— Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) June 18, 2018
To be fair, that won’t be the only lesson for FBI agents in their “in-depth focused training.” They’ll also be told, “Don’t get bribed by reporters with sports tickets and dinners for inside information on investigations.” (PowerPoint slide over-under: 15, and take the over.) If the FBI has to train its personnel not to politicize their work and not to take bribes, then the problems aren’t solvable through training. They’re only going to be solvable by firing the people who threatened to politicize their work, violated procedures, and took bribes for whatever purpose. And it shouldn’t have taken an IG report to get that process started.
Christopher Wray’s statement sounds like a CEO of a retail food chain whose employees got caught on camera insulting customers. It’s an astonishingly weak response to an existential crisis for a government agency that’s supposed to model the utmost in ethics and principles.