Earlier this month, Donald Trump kept his feud against the Federal Bureau of Investigation going, complaining that the FBI’s reputation is “in Tatters” and is now the “worst in History.” (The president isn’t great with capitalization.)
A few days later, Trump headlined a campaign rally in Florida, in which he characterized the FBI as being part of a “rigged system” because it didn’t prosecute Hillary Clinton.
Frank Montoya, Jr., a former FBI special agent who served as the Director of the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, soon after told Business Insider, “There is a lot of anger in the FBI … over how this president will say nary a negative word about the Russians, but will insult us every chance he gets.”
Keep that quote in mind when reading about how Trump escalated his feud with the bureau this morning.
“[I]t’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI. But we’re going to rebuild the FBI. It will be bigger and better than ever. But it is very sad when you look at those documents. And how they’ve done that is really, really disgraceful, and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. It’s a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.”
He added there’s a “level of anger” among “everybody” about “what they’ve been witnessing with respect to the FBI.” The president went on to say, “When you look at what’s gone on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry.”
And by “people,” he appears to mean congressional Republicans and consumers of conservative media, who are worked up in the latest attempt to undermine the investigation into the Trump-Russia scandal.
NBC News’ report explained that he appeared to be whining about newly released messages between an FBI lawyer and an agent, Peter Strzok, later assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Strzok’s private messages, shared with the public for reasons that haven’t yet been explained, included random missives in which he complained about, among other people, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Eric Holder. (Republicans seem preoccupied with his private criticisms of Trump, not the others.)
As we recently discussed, Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote a year ago, “When you’re attacking FBI agents because you’re under criminal investigation, you’re losing.” It’s funny how the salience of that message continues to resonate.
Regardless, while Trump takes aim at the FBI, he continues to praise Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling the autocrat to thank him for endorsing the White House’s talking points, before denying basic details about collusion between his political operation and the U.S. adversary.
Officials at the FBI waiting for this kind of support from the president shouldn’t hold their breath.
Postscript: While Trump continues to suggest he’s eager to “rebuild” the FBI, let’s not forget that he already fired one FBI director – who enjoyed considerable support within the bureau – in the hopes of derailing an ongoing investigation. The president then impulsively chose the new FBI director, without a lot of forethought, because he was reportedly ”tired of the search” to find James Comey’s successor.