DOJ Inspector General: Probes of FBI sexual misconduct thwarted under Comey, Lynch

by WorldTribune Staff, February 26, 2018

The FBI under Director James Comey and Obama administration Attorney General Loretta Lynch sought to block the Department of Justice’s investigation into several cases of sexual misconduct against FBI agents, a report said.

DOJ Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz recently detailed at least 14 instances of improper sexual conduct since 2014, most occurring on Comey’s and Lynch’s watch, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on Feb. 25.

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former FBI Director James Comey. / AP

“The acts entail inappropriate romantic relationships with a subordinate, outright sexual harassment, favoritism or promotion based on demands for sex, and retaliation against women who rebuffed male employee’s advances,” the Daily Caller noted.

Horowitz’s report found “significant systemic issues” afflicting how federal law enforcement agencies handled sexual harassment cases, including the FBI.

“The OIG’s ability to conduct this review was significantly impacted and delayed by the repeated difficulties we had in obtaining relevant information” from the FBI, he said.

The highest profile case involved the affair of FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, both of whom were part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, but have since been removed.

“Extra-marital affairs, while not illegal, also can expose an agent to blackmail by foreign powers,” the Daily Caller noted. “This was particularly true for Strzok who was the FBI’s chief of counterintelligence before he joined Mueller’s special counsel office. As part of his work he routinely came in contact with cases involving national security and hostile powers.”

Enforcement summaries reviewed by the Daily Caller showed that, between January 2009 and November 2013, the IG did not file a single sexual misconduct charge against FBI personnel. “But after that date sexual misconduct charges accelerated, virtually all of them under Comey’s term,” the report said.

Horowitz said in a March 2015 report on how law enforcement agencies handle sexual-misconduct complaints that his office’s ability “to conduct this review was significantly impacted and delayed by the repeated difficulties we had in obtaining relevant information from both the FBI and DEA as we were initiating this review in mid-2013.”

The Daily Caller noted that “Lynch supported Comey’s defiance of the IG via a July 20, 2015, memo from DOJ Office of Legal Counsel principal-deputy AG Karl Thompson. Thompson charged law enforcement agencies could redact information in its files and withhold information from the Inspector General. It was one of her first acts as Obama’s new Attorney General.”

When she issued the memo, “Lynch was undermining a 1978 inspector general law that instructed every federal department and agency to permit inspectors general to have access to ‘all records,’ ” the Daily Caller noted.

Horowitz said Lynch’s memo “represents a serious threat to the independence of not only the DOJ-OIG, but to all Inspectors General.”

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