Trump, Defending Himself After Flynn Guilty Plea, Says F.B.I. Is in ‘Tatters’
But on Sunday, the president condemned Mr. Comey as a liar, saying that “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn” and that Mr. Comey had harmed the bureau and its staff. He additionally accused the bureau’s brokers of spending years pursing a “phony and dishonest” investigation into the e-mail server of his 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Trump’s fury at these investigating him shocked even these with recent recollections of his repeated makes an attempt over the previous 12 months to disparage intelligence companies, the State Department and different components of his authorities. Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, the highest Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, mentioned the frenzied nature of the president’s tweets advised that he knew that Mr. Mueller was constructing an obstruction of justice case towards him.
“I see it in the hyper-frenetic attitude of the White House, the comments every day, the continual tweets,” Ms. Feinstein mentioned on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
Eric H. Holder Jr., who was President Barack Obama’s first legal professional normal, responded to the president’s tweets with one in all his personal defending the bureau. “You’ll find integrity and honesty at FBI headquarters and not at 1600 Penn Ave right now,” Mr. Holder wrote.
As he sought to discredit the Russia inquiry, which he has lengthy referred to as a political “witch hunt,” Mr. Trump on Sunday seized on reviews that Mr. Mueller had eliminated a veteran F.B.I. agent as a result of he despatched textual content messages that appeared to precise views crucial of Mr. Trump.
In a number of tweets, the president harshly criticized the agent, Peter Strzok, who had beforehand helped lead the 2016 investigation into whether or not Mrs. Clinton had mishandled categorized data on her non-public e-mail account. Mr. Strzok is taken into account one of many bureau’s most skilled and trusted counterintelligence investigators.
“Report: ‘ANTI-TRUMP FBI AGENT LED CLINTON EMAIL PROBE,’” Mr. Trump mentioned in his 10th tweet on Sunday, which by the early night had been retweeted greater than 24,000 instances. “Now it all starts to make sense!”
Most presidents enter the Oval Office with an intuition to defend and promote the integrity and capabilities of the nation’s regulation enforcement companies. Mr. Trump arrived with a distinct compulsion, fueled by a perception that intelligence and regulation enforcement officers had been stoking questions in regards to the legitimacy of his election victory.
By suggesting — as he has earlier than — that the F.B.I. and different companies are motivated by politics, Mr. Trump once more embraced the type of suspicions that feed conspiracy theories a couple of “deep state” working with a secret bias towards him.
Still, although Mr. Trump’s assaults on authorities companies at the moment are a well-recognized theme, former F.B.I. officers and veteran observers of the company mentioned they had been stunned on the ease with which the president sought to defend himself by attacking the reputations of Mr. Comey, Mr. Mueller, Mr. Strzok and the 35,000 individuals who work on the F.B.I.
“If he imagines that he can protect himself by trying to attack and destroy Mueller, Comey and the F.B.I. as an institution, he is committing an act of political suicide,” mentioned Tim Weiner, the creator of histories of the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. and a former reporter for The New York Times. “It’s a death wish, because ultimately, the law, the Constitution and the courts are stronger than this president.”
Robert E. Anderson Jr., a former prime spy hunter on the bureau, mentioned the president’s feedback would have a dispiriting impact on F.B.I. morale, particularly amongst those that usually are not concerned in political investigations.
“You’ve got men and women working tirelessly in every corner of this world to protect the United States and its people,” Mr. Anderson mentioned. “When he says what he says, it’s an insult and it’s degrading to the men and women who are sacrificing their lives to protect this great nation.”
Mr. Anderson additionally got here to the protection of Mr. Strzok, calling him “one of the most methodical, most meticulous, hard-working counterintelligence experts in the entire United States intelligence community.” Mr. Anderson mentioned Mr. Strzok “never displayed political bias.”
The president retweeted a Twitter publish urging Christopher A. Wray, the present F.B.I. director, to “clean house” on the company. In a press release on Sunday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions mentioned he had directed Mr. Wray to “review the information available on this and other matters and promptly make any necessary changes.”
Mr. Trump has repeatedly described the F.B.I. as an company in turmoil, typically blaming Mr. Comey — a “showboat” and a “grandstander” — for shedding assist amongst rank-and-file brokers. He cited such supposed turmoil when he fired Mr. Comey in May. But a number of years of inside worker surveys by the F.B.I. undercut that declare, exhibiting that staff gave Mr. Comey excessive marks for his management.
And since taking on 4 months in the past, Mr. Wray has repeatedly praised the bureau’s work drive. In a speech in October, Mr. Wray described the bureau’s staff as “outstanding and dedicated.”
“I wake up every day fired up to come to work — to be part of this extraordinary group — and to see where we can go next,” he mentioned.
Mr. Trump’s efforts to shift consideration away from Mr. Flynn’s responsible plea started Saturday evening, when he assailed the Justice Department for its dealing with of the Clinton e-mail investigation and questioned the division’s dedication to dwelling as much as its identify.
“Many people in our Country are asking what the ‘Justice’ Department is going to do about the fact that totally Crooked Hillary, AFTER receiving a subpoena from the United States Congress, deleted and ‘acid washed’ 33,000 Emails?” he wrote, referring to messages that Mrs. Clinton’s attorneys had deemed unrelated to her authorities work. “No justice!”
In one other tweet Saturday evening, Mr. Trump accused the F.B.I. of destroying Mr. Flynn’s life for his mendacity to brokers, whereas letting “Crooked Hillary Clinton” off straightforward for what he mentioned had been her personal lies to brokers. “Rigged system, or just a double standard?” he mentioned.
But Mr. Trump seems to stay particularly fixated on Mr. Comey, who testified earlier than Congress in June that the president had requested him to drop the inquiry into Mr. Flynn’s actions someday after Mr. Trump had fired Mr. Flynn. Mr. Comey declined to take action, and the president fired Mr. Comey a number of months later.
“After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters — worst in History!” Mr. Trump wrote. “But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”
The tweet drew a pointy rebuke from Mr. Holder. “The FBI’s reputation is not in ‘tatters,’” Mr. Holder wrote on Twitter. “It’s composed of the same dedicated men and women who have always worked there and who do a great, apolitical job.”
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