The integrity of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) remains in question as details slowly emerge about an internal audit rife with “compliance errors” pertaining to investigations of “politicians, candidates, religious groups, news media and others,” potentially including former President Donald Trump.
The audit was brought to the attention of House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) after a Washington Times article covered the highly redacted document. Covering investigations between Jan. 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, the audit found 747 “compliance errors” occurring within 353 separate cases.
The implications of these undisclosed findings brought Biggs to issue a letter on March 21, in collaboration with Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mike Johnson (R-LA), addressed to FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting an unredacted copy of the audit along with any related documents and detailed explanations on the predicate used by the FBI to open this many unseemly investigations.
It's time to hold the FBI's leadership more accountable.
FBI Director Christopher Wray must address the bureau’s misconduct in investigations involving politicians, candidates, and religious groups. pic.twitter.com/7PXN9C2V3A
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) March 23, 2022
“This internal review documented systemic FBI failures to follow its own rules and procedures,” the letter states. “In particular, the audit found that FBI officials failed to receive approval from supervisors to open an investigation, failed to ensure that appropriate FBI attorneys review a SIM (sensitive investigative matter) prior to opening an investigation, and did not notify the appropriate United States Attorney’s Office in writing with a month of starting an investigation-all in violation of FBI policy.”
“It possibly includes information about the surveillance of candidate Trump and later President Trump,” Biggs told Fox News before later adding the need to hold a hearing on the matter. “I suspect this conduct goes back for multiple administrations and has been an ongoing problem affecting members of both parties.”
“We can’t let this go. It’s an important issue,” the Arizona lawmaker explained. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of it. The Judiciary Committee will have oversight in the next session of Congress.”
A spokesperson for the FBI confirmed the receipt of the letter and downplayed concerns over the audit suggesting it had led to appropriate changes. “The FBI takes compliance very seriously…which is why, in 2019, we conducted an internal audit of those matters, ” the spokesperson told Fox News.
“While the number of deviations from FBI approval, notification and administrative requirements noted in the report is unacceptable,” the FBI assured, “we began implementing important changes in training and raising awareness even prior to issuance of the report, and we remain committed to ensuring all personnel adhere to our internal investigative and operational guidelines.”
The letter called the number of errors “staggering” and stated it suggests “a pattern of misconduct and mismanagement with the FBI” as 191 cases involved public officials, 10 involved political candidates and 11 were related to news media.
Presenting serious First Amendment concerns, the letter also called for unredacted copies of all other internal audits that the “FBI’s Inspection Division” had conducted since Nov. 1, 2019 in addition to their other demands. Compliance was requested to be met no later than 5pm on Monday April 4.
As of Thursday, Biggs confirmed that he had not received a response from the FBI and this matter will only further enhance the growing distrust of the American public for the government organization.
At the end of 2021, a poll of 1,000 likely voters found that favorability of the FBI had dropped from 60 percent in May 2020 to 46 percent by December 2021. When combined, 64 percent of Republicans and 30 percent of Democrats amounted to 46 percent of respondents believing the President Joe Biden was utilizing the bureau as his own “personal Gestapo.”
Wray testified in 2021 that the FBI always uses “proper prediction” and that it does not “investigate First Amendment groups…” or “people for speech, association, for assembly [or] for membership in domestic First Amendment groups.”
“However,” the letter expressed, “this internal review – which you never disclosed and which shows fundamental errors with FBI investigations touching on sensitive political and constitutional matters – calls into question the reliability of your statement.
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