The FBI will make its employees undergo bias training, Director Christopher A. Wray promised Thursday, after a devastating report found the bureau made bad decisions, has a culture of leaking sensitive information, and may have skewed campaign-season decisions because of bias.
New text messages released by the Justice Department inspector general showing conversations between Deputy Assistant Director Peter Strzok and paramour FBI lawyer Lisa Page suggest a deep anti-Trump sentiment.
In one exchange, Ms. Page wanted reassurance that then-candidate Donald Trump couldn’t win the election. Mr. Strzok replied: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”
The inspector general also said the FBI was rife with people leaking to the press, or holding other cozy relationships that should worry the bureau. Some employees accepted sports tickets, went on golf outings, or had their dinners paid for by reporters.
That was in addition to the leaks themselves.
Only four FBI employees at headquarters are approved to speak directly to the press without specific authorization, but investigators said that was “widely ignored.” They even drew up charts showing specific unnamed reporters’ contacts with the press.
One reporter had more than 110 contacts with 18 different bureau employees, including special agents in charge, deputy assistant directors, lawyers and analysts, according to the chart.
“These leaks highlight the need to change what appears to be a cultural attitude among many in the organization,” the audit concludes.
The FBI has been under fire for its operations during the 2016 campaign, when it was conducting several investigations into matters surrounding Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, and also began a probe into Republican candidate Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey for his handling of the probe, and others have also been disciplined.
The new report said that while bias didn’t appear to affect the big decisions in the handling of the initial investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email practices, they couldn’t rule out a role for bias in pushing the FBI to focus on the Russia probe in October 2016, rather than go back to review a new set of emails found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner, who was married to Mrs. Clinton’s top personal aide, Huma Abedin.
Mr. Wray said he’s ordered a review of FBI procedures and how agents mix their political duties with personal opinions.
That, he said in his official reply to the report, “will further include political bias training.”
At a press conference later, Mr. Wray said while the report exposed problems, it shouldn’t be seen as a black mark on the FBI more broadly.
“Nothing — nothing in this report — impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution,” he said.
He added: “We’re going to learn from this report and we’re going to be better and stronger as a result.”
Mr. Wray said the bureau has taken steps to try to get a handle on problems. Some people have been reassigned and cases have been referred to the FBI’s internal personnel department for review.
He wouldn’t say who was referred, saying it “would not be appropriate.” But the inspector general’s report signaled
“Once that process is complete we will not hesitate to hold people accountable,” Mr. Wray said.
He also said the bureau has a new media policy to clamp down on leaks, and said he’s asked the personnel office to look at whether they need to increase penalties on those who do leak.
He vowed “intensive training” for everyone to make it “painfully” clear what the standards and rules are.
“We accept the findings of the report and the recommendations,” Mr. Wray said.