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A New FBI Scandal Has Emerged

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

At this point, it’s going to be difficult to figure out which organization has more scandals: Black Lives Matter or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It seems that every week, another whistleblower comes forward to detail how the agency is rife with corruption, ineptitude, and political bias.

On the latest episode of “What Has the FBI Done Now?” multiple whistleblowers alleged that the Bureau has fostered a hostile work environment involving rampant sexual harassment and retaliation against female agents who have come forward to complain about the conduct. It’s the latest headache for FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, who have been pummeled with whistleblower complaints and Republican lawmakers criticizing them for presiding over a corrupt entity.

In a letter to Garland and Wray, Sen. Chuck Grassley, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, slammed the Justice Department and the Bureau for allowing this conduct. He wrote:

Simply put, these two documents show a systemic failure within the Justice Department and FBI to protect female employees from sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace and a failure to sufficiently punish employees for that same misconduct. FBI employees should not have to suffer under daily abuse and misconduct by their colleagues and supervisors. Congress has an obligation to perform an objective and independent review of the Justice Department’s and FBI’s failures and determine the accuracy of the data contained in the documents so that the American people know and understand what, if any, changes have been made to solve these significant problems.

One of the whistleblowers contended that Wray and other FBI leadership allowed executives and senior managers accused of sexual misconduct to keep their positions and refrained from punishing them. The lawyer representing the whistleblower discussed the matter with The Washington Times.

“Mr. Wray and [Deputy FBI Director Paul] Abbate should have immediately taken both performance measures and administrative misconduct measures against executives involved in sexual misconduct while working,” the lawyer insisted. “Instead, Mr. Wray and Mr. Abbate have allowed other executives to continue their misconduct and/or retaliate against victims and witnesses, while the subordinate employees have no immediate recourse to stop the offenders. Mr. Wray’s and Mr. Abbate’s refusal to act and protect their female employees has threatened the health and safety of the women in the FBI.”

The employee, who indicated they are willing to give testimony before Congress, asked lawmakers to compel the Bureau to release the names of Senior Executive Service members who are shown to have engaged in sexual misconduct “including harassment, assault or inappropriate touching,” according to the report.

The FBI employee, who is willing to testify before Congress, requested that lawmakers mandate that the FBI release the names of Senior Executive Service members who are found to have committed sexual misconduct, including harassment, assault, or inappropriate touching.

The Bureau’s issues with sexual misconduct are not new. Last year, the agency was criticized for allowing this type of behavior. While the leadership promised to address the problem, it appears they did not come through.

“FBI officials touted a 24-hour tip-line to report abuse and a working group of senior executives to review policies and protocols on harassment and victim support, and more immediate action to probe allegations and terminate or at least demote employees who have engaged in misconduct,” The Washington Times wrote. “Officials also claimed to have extended the bureau’s Victim Services Division, to support employees who are victims of internal misconduct.”

Nevertheless, the whistleblower indicated this support line does not exist.

When a female FBI employee called the hotline, she reached the FBI Headquarters Strategic Information & Operation Center. “The operator had never heard about any special FBI sexual harassment hotline,” she said.

In a disclosure given to Congress, another female agent said she was sexually harassed by her boss.

What is particularly alarming about this affair is that a troubling number of FBI agents have resigned due to sexual misconduct. PBS News reported:

The whistleblower told the office of Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, that the Justice Department launched the review of the FBI’s disciplinary database in 2020 following an Associated Press investigation into sexual misconduct allegations involving at least six senior FBI officials.

The follow-up review found 665 FBI employees, including 45 senior-level officials, resigned or retired between 2004 and 2020 following a misconduct probe but before a final disciplinary letter could be issued, according to a letter this week from Grassley to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland.

So, not only has the FBI been making deceptive claims about the threat of white supremacist violence and prioritizing this “issue” over child abuse cases for political purposes, but it also allows its agents to sexually harass their co-workers while taking the most minimal of actions against them. This is yet another reason why the Bureau deserves to be under scrutiny. Unfortunately, it still appears to be unlikely that the agency will be held accountable.

Republicans have not laid out any plans for the FBI other than hauling its leadership before Congress. Even if they are serious about the matter, they won’t be able to do much until Biden is out of the White House and a Republican is in office. But even then, they may decide it’s not worth the trouble and go back to business as usual. Let’s hope I’m wrong about this.

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