WASHINGTON — Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey spoke at the annual national leadership summit of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in the nation’s capital on Monday.
The ADL has made controversial claims recently about President Donald Trump, suggesting that his campaign and his administration bore responsibility for a claimed surge in antisemitism during and after the 2016 presidential election.
Others have disputed the ADL’s claims, noting that the ADL includes hoax bomb threats made by a Jewish teenager in its list of antisemitic incidents, and criticizing it for taking a partisan approach to the issue.
The ADL’s findings are also in stark contrast to data released last month by experts at Tel Aviv University in Israel, who documented only a slight increase in antisemitic incidents, and concluded that there were “no indications so far of a major increase connected to the tense U.S. election or Donald Trump’s new presidency.”
In his remarks, Comey recalled his last speech to the ADL summit in 2014, calling it a “love letter” to the organization.
“When I spoke to you three years ago I sang your praises,” Comey said. “I sang your praises and highlighted the way you fight for inclusivity and diversity.
“I highlighted the way you fight for equality and justice,” Comey said, adding that the ADL has helped the FBI fight hate crimes and terrorism, and has educated law enforcement about building trust in communities.
“I labeled that speech three years ago a love letter to the ADL,” Comey said. “Three years later I can say from the perspective of the FBI we are still in love with you.”
Comey did not mention the ADL’s ongoing dispute with the Trump administration, including its campaign against Trump adviser Steve Bannon.
Nor did ADL give public credit to President Trump for prioritizing the investigation into the bomb threats, although they dated back to the Obama administration. The Trump administration sent 12 FBI agents to Israel to assist with the investigation.
Comey said that although hate crimes aren’t easily prevented “we will move heaven and earth to find those responsible and bring them to justice.”
Comey added, however, it is the government that must improve its protocol.
“We must do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crimes to fully understand what is happening in our communities and in our country so we can stop it,” Comey said, concluding his remarks to the ADL, “Love, FBI.”