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IG Report Foreshadows Disciplinary Action, Criminal Referrals for FBI

IG Report Foreshadows Disciplinary Action, Criminal Referrals for FBI
U.S. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 18, 2018, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 19 June 2018 10:42 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The Inspector General’s long-awaited report on “Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election” sheds light on facts — and foreshadows actions to hold individuals accountable.

The report sheds light on partisan political influence and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI and Department of Justice. While it stops short of substantiating any crimes or Hatch Act violations, it explains that the Hatch Act “governs the political activity of federal employees to protect the federal workforce from partisan political influence,” and hints at criminal referrals.

Criminal investigations undoubtedly will follow.

In the meantime, there is value in the IG shedding light on facts. In some instances, facts are so blatant that further investigation may be unnecessary for accountability.

For example, many taxpayers are wondering why they are still paying the salary of FBI agent Peter Strzok, whose now infamous texts with Lisa Page, then Special Counsel to Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, appear to have violated the Hatch Act prohibition against “use[ing] his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.” 5 U.S.C. §7323(a)(1). Penalties include “disciplinary action consisting of removal, reduction in grade, debarment from Federal employment for a period not to exceed 5 years” and/or “a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000.” 5 U.S.C. §7326.

Whenever IGs shed light on governmental fraud, waste, or abuse, they help fulfill the constitutional mandate that, “a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time” (Art. I, §9).

The Inspector General Act also provides that, “In carrying out the duties and responsibilities established under this Act, each Inspector General shall report expeditiously to the Attorney General whenever the Inspector General has reasonable grounds to believe there has been a violation of Federal criminal law,” i.e., criminal referrals.

The IG found that “former Director Comey was insubordinate when he intentionally concealed from DOJ his intentions regarding the July 5, 2016, announcement.” In addition, the report sheds light on these facts:

  • “On June 27, 2016, [Attorney General] Lynch met with former President Clinton on Lynch’s plane, which was parked on the tarmac at a Phoenix airport. . . . Comey told the OIG . . . that the tarmac meeting ‘tipped the scales’ toward making his mind up to go forward with his own public statement”;
  • “After McCabe became FBI Deputy Director in February 2016, McCabe had an active role in the supervision of the [e-mail] investigation, and oversight of the Clinton Foundation investigation, until he recused himself from these investigations on November 1, 2016. . . . McCabe did not fully comply with this recusal in a few instances related to the Clinton Foundation investigation”; and
  • “[T]ext messages sent by Strzok and Page . . . potentially indicated or created the appearance that investigative decisions they made were impacted by bias or improper considerations. Most of the text messages raising such questions pertained to the Russia investigation, and the implication in some of these text messages, particularly Strzok’s August 8 text message (‘we’ll stop’ candidate Trump from being elected), was that Strzok might be willing to take official action to impact a presidential candidate’s electoral prospects.”

Instead of substantiating any violations, the IG report explains that, “The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has jurisdiction over potential Hatch Act violations.” Even if OSC has exclusive authority to investigate certain Hatch Act violations, there is no reason why an IG — or any other government leader — cannot promptly hold people accountable for blatant Hatch Act violations. Summary due process should suffice.

Finally, the IG found neither FISA abuses nor “pay for play” violations associated with the Clinton Foundation. He did, however, shed light on the forest of FISA and Clinton Foundation trees around Comey’s July 5, 2016, public excoriation of Hillary Clinton for private e-mail misuse, concluding that “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statute proscribing gross negligence in the handling of classified information and of the statute proscribing misdemeanor mishandling, my judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

With these newly exposed facts, “We the People” look forward to our Justice Department being transparently forthcoming with oversight requests by our elected Representatives in Congress. We also look forward to our Attorney General seeking justice for all violations of law, so that we may have full faith and confidence in our Government in its constitutional role of “secur[ing] the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”

As we await results of criminal referrals stemming from the DOJ IG report, we should thank Inspector General Michael Horowitz for shedding light on facts, thereby helping “We the People” understand better how our government is spending our money.

Joseph E. Schmitz served as a foreign policy and national security advisor to Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. The opinions expressed in this article are his personal opinions. Schmitz served as Inspector General of the Department of Defense from 2002-2005 and is now Chief Legal Officer of Pacem Solutions International. He graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy, earned his J.D. degree from Stanford Law School, and is author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional ‘Enemies, Foreign and Domestic.’" Read more reports from Joseph E. Schmitz — Click Here Now.

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The Inspector General’s long-awaited report on “Various Actions by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice in Advance of the 2016 Election” sheds light on facts — and foreshadows actions to hold individuals accountable.
inspector general, horowitz, fbi, disciplinary action
Tuesday, 19 June 2018 10:42 AM
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