National Security

665 FBI employees left agency after misconduct investigations: whistleblower disclosure

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said he obtained internal records from a whistleblower alleging 665 FBI employees retired or resigned following misconduct investigations to avoid receiving final disciplinary letters.

Grassley said the whistleblower — whom he did not name — provided an internal Justice Department report that indicated the employees left between 2004 and 2020 and included 45 senior-level employees.

“The allegations and records paint a disgraceful picture of abuse that women within the FBI have had to live with for many years,” Grassley wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland. 

“This abuse and misconduct is outrageous and beyond unacceptable,” Grassley continued.

Grassley’s office said Justice Department officials created the report following an Associated Press story in 2020 that revealed sexual conduct allegations among senior officials in the bureau.

The alleged report states the 665 employees left following “alleged misconduct,” but it did not specify it as sexual misconduct, although the document is titled as such.

His office suggested the actual figure could be larger, because the data doesn’t include departures that occurred during or just prior to the start of misconduct investigations.

The Associated Press investigation that apparently spawned the report’s creation found that the bureau opted to transfer those facing accusations or allow them to retire.

Doing so allows those employees to keep their pensions and benefits as officials investigate the allegations and maintain anonymity after the process concludes.

Grassley also said he received a second document from the whistleblower that analyzes Wray’s implementation of a zero-tolerance policy on sexual misconduct, detailing “inconsistent adjudication.” 

“Recent sexual misconduct cases appear to show [the Office of Professional Responsibility]’s application of this directive has resulted in seemingly random penalties and disparate treatment, potentially compromising the consistency, fairness and due process of the FBI’s disciplinary system,” the document allegedly states.

The report suggests nonsupervisors face greater penalties in sexual misconduct cases, while supervisors receive more lenient punishments.

“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,” Grassley wrote in his letter. 

The FBI in a statement said employees who commit sexual harassment have no place in the bureau, pointing to new resources such as a 24/7 hotline and saying it is working with lawmakers on the issue.

“The FBI cannot legally stop someone from resigning or retiring,” the agency said. “It is infuriating that we are left with little disciplinary recourse when people leave before their case is adjudicated. Under circumstances where an employee leaves under inquiry, the FBI takes available steps to ensure that the individual’s file reflects that they left under inquiry, which may lead to disqualification from certain privileges otherwise available to former law enforcement, among other things.”

The Hill has reached out to a Justice Department spokesperson for further comment.

—Updated Friday at 11:12 a.m.

Tags Associated Press Christopher Wray Christopher Wray Chuck Grassley Chuck Grassley Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation Merrick Garland Merrick Garland Misconduct whistleblower

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