Since Donald Trump abruptly fired James Comey on Tuesday, morale is down and FBI agents are on edge. As one succinctly noted, “no one knows anything, everything sucks.”
POLITICO reports one old hand who’s “known and worked with Comey for years” first heard about the firing on the radio while driving and is not happy about it.
“I’m literally in tears right now. That’s all I have to say.”
But whether or not FBI agents liked James Comey, the firing does not bode well for them and the work they’re doing. POLITICO explains:
FBI heads are appointed to 10-year terms to guarantee the political independence and integrity of the federal government’s top law enforcement agency.
FBI directors are normally so removed from partisan politics the only one who’s ever been removed from office was when President Bill Clinton fired Will S. Sessions amid reports of ethical violations. Anti-Trump news and politics junkies could see it coming, but FBI agents got blindsided. Then, they couldn’t help feeling suspicious about the timing…Especially as James Comey’s requests for more resources to pursue the FBI’s investigation of Team Trump’s ties to Russia came to light.
“Everyone is asking, ‘Why now? What is the reason for doing it now?’ If this had happened immediately after the election, that would be one thing. Everyone was thinking it may happen then. But now? People keep asking if it’s because of Russia.”
Former FBI special agent Mike German adds:
“The working agents don’t like the way the FBI has been portrayed over the last six or eight or 10 months. I think this will be very tough. It’s really going to require a non-politicized effort to ensure the current investigations are allowed to proceed without any interference.”
Lewis Schiliro, who retired in 2000, said that although James Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails left much to be desired, Donald Trump still should have allowed him to resign as a courtesy.
Meanwhile, The Daily Beast reports James Comey’s replacement, Andrew McCabe, is bound to cause even more controversy. For starters, Republicans will howl about his wife, Jill. She ran for US Senate in 2016 as a Democrat and received large donations from a PAC for the scandal-ridden Clinton ally, Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia. She did nothing wrong and her husband wasn’t the FBI’s deputy director yet.
But Donald Trump and his pet Republicans don’t care. Some are already howling for McCabe’s removal.
According to The Daily Beast, “FBI agents are facing confusion, grief, and anger.” One counterterrorism agent declared, “Everyone feels like there been a death in the family.” Dozens have gone a step further in treating Comey’s firing like a death.
At least a dozen agents posted photos on their private Facebook pages of themselves with Comey (or just of Comey). Some made those their temporary profile picture—a gesture agents usually reserve for when a colleague dies in the line of duty.
Another agent lamented that the toxic combination of Donald Trump’s unpopularity with his meddling in the FBI will undermine trust and make it harder for him to do his job.
“The real impact will be the distrust of the agency under the leadership of the new director. No matter who gets the job, there will be a cloud of suspicion because the President is unpopular with much of the population. That bad faith will make it harder to do my job.”
Is there a war brewing between FBI agents and the White House?
If Donald Trump can fire James Comey to delay an FBI investigation against him, that’s a serious threat to the FBI’s mission. Aside from prizing their independence from politics, Interim FBI Director Andrew McCabe told Congress, “the vast majority of employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey.”
A senior level source bluntly told The Daily Beast if Donald Trump is declaring war on the bureau and its leadership, he should expect “nothing less in return.” Another former agent from the FBI’s criminal division summed up the low morale in a short sentence.
“Who cares, nothing matters, no one knows anything, everything sucks.”
To add insult to injury, Reuters reported on Thursday Donald Trump canceled a planned visit to FBI headquarters after officials from the agency warned he “would not be greeted warmly.”
An FBI official anonymously told The Washington Post:
“[Trump] essentially declared war on a lot of people at the FBI. think there will be a concerted effort to respond over time in kind.”
But what can a bunch of ticked off FBI agents do to the leader of the so-called free world? “Quite a lot,” Vox answers.
The bureau could leak damaging information to the press. It could work more closely with Congress to strengthen the legislative probes into Russia. It could intensify its own Russia investigation, or even open new investigations into Trump and his allies.
Remember, the infamous Deep Throat — the anonymous source who took down President Richard Nixon of Watergate fame — was later revealed to be then-FBI Associate Director Mark Felt. As Douglas Charles, a Penn State professor who specializes in the history of the FBI, told Vox, he did it to undermine L. Patrick Gray, an FBI director seen as more loyal to Richard Nixon than to the FBI.
“He wasn’t leaking out of some sympathy for Woodward and Bernstein or Watergate, but for his own interests — to undermine Gray.”
And in late March, CNN tantalizingly reported that the FBI has something on Trump, though they didn’t say what it was.Click here for reuse options!
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