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Michael Horowitz: A Profile of the Inspector General Who Investigated the FBI and DOJ


Michael Horowitz is an American attorney and government official serving as Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). In this capacity he is responsible for detecting and deterring waste, fraud, abuse and misconduct within DOJ programs and personnel as well as increasing economy and efficiency of operations within the department. Michael has led multiple high-profile investigations pertaining to actions taken by both FBI and DOJ during 2016 presidential election and response for COVID-19 pandemic response efforts.

michael e. horowitz news
michael e. horowitz news

Early life and education

Born September 19th 1962 to Anne J. and Fred Horowitz – both Jewish – of New York City. His father owned a women’s clothing manufacturer while his mother ran an antique store in Nyack. At Brandeis University he earned both a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in economics while minoring in Legal Studies; followed by earning his Juris Doctorate at Harvard Law School with honors.

Career and achievements

Horowitz began his legal career as a law clerk for Judge John G. Davies of the U.S. District Court for California’s Central District and associate at Debevoise & Plimpton law firm. From 1991-1999 he served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in New York’s Southern District as Chief of its Public Corruption Unit and Deputy Chief of Criminal Division – being awarded with an Attorney General Award of Distinguished Service for conducting an in-depth police corruption investigation in 1995.

Since 1999, he had served the DOJ’s Criminal Division in Washington D.C. as Deputy Assistant Attorney General and then as Chief of Staff from 1999 to 2002. Following that role, he returned to private practice as partner at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft specializing in white collar defense, internal investigations, regulatory compliance compliance issues and was confirmed as commissioner by the Senate for service on the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2003.

Horowitz was officially confirmed and installed as Inspector General of the DOJ on April 16, 2012. Since then, he has overseen an international workforce of more than 500 special agents, auditors, inspectors, attorneys, and support staff nationwide. From 2015-20 he chaired CIGIE (Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency), an organization comprised of all 75 federal Inspectors General. Since April 2020 he also co-chairs Pandemic Response Accountability Committee which Congress established to monitor pandemic emergency spending totalling $5 trillion since April 2020.

Horowitz has conducted several extensive investigations into the conduct of both the FBI and DOJ, such as:

  • A joint review by the FBI and DOJ of their actions during the 2016 presidential election concluded that former FBI Director James Comey and other employees brought discredit upon themselves and to their agency by deviating from established procedures and norms, but did not find evidence of political bias motivations for these decisions.
  • Review of FBI applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against former Trump campaign adviser, revealed significant errors and omissions submitted to FISA court and failed oversight from DOJ.
  • Review of DOJ and FBI Handling of Alleged Sexual Abuse Committed by Larry Nassar of USA Gymnastics National Team Doctor Larry Nassar revealed that the FBI Indianapolis Field Office failed to respond with due seriousness and urgency when receiving complaints against Dr. Larry Nassar of sexual abuse, while senior officials at both organizations made numerous oversight and coordination errors that made matters worse.

Horowitz has earned praise from lawmakers from both parties as well as former colleagues and peers alike for his independence, integrity, and professionalism. At times he has faced scrutiny or pressure from political figures who question or accuse his findings or alleged incompetence or bias; yet Horowitz continues to stand up for himself and advocate for greater transparency and accountability within government.

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