A Department of Defense Inspector General report concluded that a Marine Corps general "disparaged, bullied, and humiliated subordinates, devalued women, and created a negative ... work environment that led to a general distrust of his impartiality and leadership."
In response, the Marine Corps said it would "take appropriate action in light of the substantiated misconduct."
Brig. Gen. Norman Cooling was serving as the Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps when the Senate Armed Services Committee sent a complaint to then-Defense Secretary James Mattis about Cooling's conduct, leading to the DOD IG investigation which was initiated on March 15, 2018.
The IG concluded that Cooling violated sections of U.S. Code, as well as Defense Department and Navy regulations. He is currently serving as the Assistant Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations for the Marine Corps, after being removed from his previous position last year due to the investigation.
After reviewing the IG's draft report, Cooling acknowledged that he "fell short of maintaining a positive climate throughout the Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA)" and accepted responsibility for that shortfall, but said the report did not provide "sufficient evidence by any legitimate legal standard to support a finding that I created a hostile work environment or that I made demeaning remarks about women," according to the IG.
"The Marine Corps takes all allegations of misconduct seriously, regardless of rank," Marine Corps spokesman Maj. Brian Block told ABC News in a statement on Wednesday. "The Marine Corps is currently reviewing the DoD IG's report and will take appropriate action in light of the substantiated misconduct."
"The Marine Corps expects every Marine, uniformed and civilian -- and particularly those in leadership positions -- to hold themselves to the highest standards in their personal and professional conduct. When Marines fall short of our standards they are held accountable," he said.
The IG interviewed over three dozen witnesses and reviewed 11,650 official emails, along with other relevant documents before determining, according to the report, that "on numerous occasions ... Cooling’s comments and conduct demeaned, bullied, and humiliated his subordinates."
Among the details of the report:
Cooling further told the IG that the report "can only legitimately establish that I made a few isolated comments that some construed in the worst possible way and told third parties so that they ended up in the [SASC complaint]."
"At no time during that brief assignment, nor at any other time during my career, did I ever discriminate against anyone for anything other than their performance," he said in the report.
Cooling graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1986 and has deployed multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan throughout his military career.