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Archive for June 14th, 2021

FBI Pledges More Aggressive Response to Sexual Misconduct in Its Ranks

By Steve Neavling

The FBI said it’s taking serious steps to address sexual harassment in its ranks after a media report revealed the bureau mishandled misconduct allegations against high-ranking officials. 

An Associated Press investigation in 2020 found that at least six senior FBI officials have been accused of sexual misconduct in the past five years and that none was disciplined. 

FBI Deputy Director Paul Abbate told the AP that the bureau is establishing a 24/7 tip line and more aggressively following up on misconduct allegations.

Abbate said he has a stern message for employees who engage in sexual misconduct: “we’re coming for them.”

“That’s a strong approach, a forceful shift and we mean it. And it’s coming from the top,” Abbate said. “Individuals who engage in this type of misconduct don’t belong in the FBI and they certainly should not have supervisory oversight of others. Period.”

The AP reports:

Among the changes FBI officials detailed to AP in a series of recent interviews was a round-the-clock tip line that provides a centralized mechanism to report abuse, though they would not say how many calls it has received. They also cited a working group of senior executives to review policies and procedures on harassment and victim support, and faster action to investigate allegations and fire or at least demote employees found to have engaged in misconduct to ensure they have no path to management.

To address chronic concerns that the FBI makes it difficult and intimidating for victims to come forward, the bureau is more broadly spreading the word in online and internal communications about where victimized employees can report allegations. And the FBI’s Victim Services Division, which until recently had focused on aiding victims of federal crimes outside the bureau, has been extending the same level of support to employees who are victims of internal misconduct.

DOJ Watchdog Probes DOJ’s Seizure of Data from Democrats, Journalists

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By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department’s internal watchdog is investigating discoveries that the Trump administration seized data from journalists and House Democrats as part of a probe into leaked classified information. 

Inspector General Michael Horowitz announced the investigation Friday and said he would examine whether the DOJ violated department policy and “whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations,” The Associated Press reports.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco requested the internal review after the revelation last week that Justice Department prosecutors secretly subpoenaed Apple for data from U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, as well as their aides and family members.

It was also recently discovered that Trump’s Justice Department  secured subpoenas for reporters’ records. 

President Biden’s administration denounced the subpoenas as an abuse of power. White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates called the conduct “shocking” and said it “clearly fits within an appalling trend that represents the opposite of how authority should be used.”