FBI Director Christopher Wray: ‘This Hasn’t Been an Easy Time for Us’
“We all want to see the day where we can close the book on this chapter,” Wray told The Daily Beast after the release of the IG’s report on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton probe.
Shortly after the release of a long-anticipated Justice Department inspector-general report into the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server, FBI Director Chris Wray vowed accountability and perseverance in a message to his beleaguered workforce.
“We all want to see the day where we can close the book on this chapter and say, ‘That’s it. That’s behind us. Back to business,’” Wray said in his message, which The Daily Beast obtained ahead of a press conference Wray is scheduled to hold late Thursday afternoon. “But we’re not quite there yet.”
Wray said the inspector-general oversight will make the FBI “stronger as an organization.” As an accountability measure, he said he has “already referred conduct highlighted in the IG report” to the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility, and once the “appropriate disciplinary process” is complete, “we won’t hesitate to hold people accountable for their actions.”
While substantial political criticism has centered on FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page for their anti-Trump sentiments while at work on investigations relevant to Trump, Wray named no specific employees.
As well, Wray is requiring “all our senior executives, from around the world, to convene for in-depth training on the lessons we should learn from this report.” Following that, “every single employee” will receive training “on what went wrong, so those mistakes will never be repeated… The OIG report makes clear that we’ve got some work to do.”
But Wray also said that it was important to highlight that the inspector general “did not find any evidence of political bias or improper consideration actually impacting the investigation under review”—though it did find “errors of judgement, violations of or disregard for policy, and decisions that, at the very least, in hindsight, were not the best choices.” It seemed like a delicate reference to Wray’s predecessor, James Comey, whom the report substantially criticizes.
But despite the heated attacks on the FBI from President Donald Trump and his congressional allies, Wray noted the report is “focused on a specific set of events and on a narrow set of employees” involved.
“Nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution,” Wray said. “This hasn’t been an easy time for us, to put it mildly. We’ve been under attack on a number of fronts, the rumor mill has been swirling around us, and there’s been a lot of upheaval. It’s not easy. Trust me: I get it. But if we wanted easy, we wouldn’t have chosen to work here, doing the indispensable work we do.”