About Strzok’s “out of scope” polygraph…

Why aren’t lawmakers (and pundits) drilling down on this apparent smoking gun?

One of the few points raised in the Strozk hearing yesterday that caught my attention emerged from Rep. Collins’ questioning.

Collins asked Strzok when he last passed a polygraph test.



After some bantering and parsing, a couple of points were established:

1) Strzok said that he last took a polygraph 2 or 3 years ago

2) Strzok confirmed that he (and his superiors) were notified in January 2016 that his polygraph was “out of scope”

3) The FBI took no action based on the out of scope notification.

Hmm … aroused my curiosity.

Here’s what I’ve been able to piece together…



FBI agents are required to periodically pass polygraph examinations. Generally, the “period” is every 5 years.

An agent’s polygraph is “out of scope” if the agent hasn’t passed a polygraph within the specified period.

Note: “Hasn’t passed” is not necessarily the same as “failed” since an agent may not have taken a polygraph within the time period, the polygraph may have been inconclusive, or the polygraph may have raised issues that haven’t been resolved.

Strzok confirmed that he was notified in January 2016 that that his polygraph was out of scope.

Then, Strzok told Collins, under oath, that he last took a polygraph 2 or 3 years ago (i.e. within the required time period).. and that he hadn’t failed it.

If both claims are true, that means that his last test results were either inconclusive or raised issues that hadn’t been resolved.


What’s the ‘so what?”

Under FBI policy, agents whose polygraph are are out of scope are supposed to have their security clearances suspended or severely restricted.

The FBI did neither.

Note: Unrelated to Strzok, the OIG conducted an investigation of FBI practices re: resolving out of scope polygraphs and the OIG concluded that policy enforcement was unevenly applied and generally lax.

Strzok was allowed to remain in his position and maintain his high level security clearances.

At the time (January 2016), Strzok was leading the Clinton investigation.

Think about that for a second.

By FBI policy, since his polygraph was out of scope, he should not have been cleared for access to classified information.

But of course, the whole investigation revolved around handling of classified information.

Bottom line: Following FBI policy, Strzok shouldn’t have been on the Clinton case, let alone leading it.

That strikes me as a pretty big issue that folks should be drilling down on…


Link to the Mueller Investigation

Of course, Strzok not only led the Clinton investigation, he was also assigned to the Mueller probe.

That is until Mueller fired him and he was reassigned to the FBI’s HR department

One of the lighter moments in the hearing was when some Congressman said that being moved to HR is a BIG demotion.  All folks in “human capital” positions must have cringed at that one.

Strzok danced around questions re: why he was reassigned.  He claimed that it wasn’t because of bias, but of the “perception of bias”… and that Mueller didn’t tell him why he was being reassigned (huh?).

My hunch: Mueller was  finally enforcing the FBI policy re: out of scope polygraphs … which was disqualifying for Strzok.

About the time of Strzok’s reassignment (I think), is when the OIG was investigating out of scope enforcement and when Congressman Collins identified Strzok’s out of scope situation as problematic.

Click to view a video of Collins grilling Wray and Rosenstein of the issue.  Relevant part stats at the 2 minute mark.

Disqualifying for the Trump probe, but not disqualifying for the Clinton “matter”.

Say, what?


Maybe, as James Carville said during the Bill Clinton impeachment, “It’s all about sex”.

Security mavens are conjecturing that Strzok was probably evasive in his polygraph about his then secret affair with another FBI employee.

That hypothesis is plausible but has not been confirmed with supporting facts.

Even if that’s the case, “just about sex” isn’t a valid defense.

An FBI candidate would be disqualified under those circumstances since they are presumed to be either subject to blackmail or, at the least, severely distracted.

My conclusions: Strzok shouldn’t have been assigned to either the Clinton or Trump cases … and Mueller took the right course by firing him.

Broader than that, it makes me very nervous that this guy was running the FBI’s counter-terrorism department.

Surely, the FBI had better people for the jobs.

That’s a failure of leadership, Mr. Comey.


Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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2 Responses to “About Strzok’s “out of scope” polygraph…”

  1. LosLobos Says:

    So what? Look at Kushner with a father in jailed and the 666 5th Ave nastiness. He would not be allowed a public trust clearance much less the level
    of access he has.

    Even w/o the odious what-about-ism, should not surprise us that Homa thinks this disqualifying and th only highlight, when it fact the main take away is the Congress efforts for leveraging his testimony into an impeachment of the FBI was a good oral and abject failure. So kudos professor, way to miss the point

  2. About the bruhaha over security clearances… | The Homa Files Says:

    […] See About Strzok’s “out of scope” polygraph… […]

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