I have the highest respect for the FBI as both an institution and a law enforcement organization. I have worked with former brick agents over the course of many years, and counted as a close friend one former agent who was one of the most honorable men I have ever known. If everyone in the Bureau had even half of his integrity, it would still stand as one of the finest examples of public service in the history of this nation.
It was that reputation that once inspired me to apply as a special agent myself, during which I got to meet many more amazing people. The selection process was long and intense, and over the course of it I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the dedication of those agents who were tasked with finding new members to join their ranks. They took as gospel the Bureau’s motto, “Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.” Nothing has ever shaken my belief in that, and nothing ever will.
Corruption, however, is insidious. It can taint everything it touches—and as we found during the Obama administration, there were a great many players in lofty positions who elevated politics above principle. Lois Lerner at the IRS targeting conservative groups for the express purpose of suppressing their Frust Amendment rights is but one egregious example. Eric Holder at the Justice Department walking guns to Mexican drug cartels to undermine the Second Amendment is yet another. And lest we forget one of the greatest breaches of public trust since Watergate, it‘s becoming increasingly clear that Barack Obama’s White House authorized the use of American intelligence agencies to conduct politically motivated surveillance on the Trump campaign.
Sadly, this wholesale abuse of power also ensnared the FBI—which, as a Congressional investigation has revealed, engaged in seriously improper conduct as it looked into Hillary Clinton’s email server and might very well have been used as an instrument of the Deep State to undermine the Trump administration. To say that the FBI’s reputation is in tatters—as President Trump inelegantly stated—may be an exaggeration, but that doesn’t meant the Bureau hasn’t taken a serious hit. The revelations of FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page, who allegedly took it upon themselves to sabotage the Trump presidency through press leaks and a bogus dossier, have only cemented the issue of an FBI with serious credibility issues.
That’s why it’s no surprise that the Bureau would try to soften its image with the release of a letter written by Andrew McCabe in the wake of James Comey’s dismissal as FBI Director. In it, the deputy director seeks to console agents at the loss of their leader, and assure them that they can and will meet the challenges that will follow:
Thank you for continuing to do the great work of this organization. […] [d]espite the fact that we are still trying to adjust to an FBI without Director Comey. So please — hang in there. As men and women of the FBI, we are at our best when times are tough. Please stay focused on the mission, keep doing great work, be good to each other and we will get through this together.
I’m certain that at the time, most agents still expressed affection for Comey, and that President Trump’s clumsy handling of his dismissal only reinforced their loyalty to him. Under those circumstances, it only makes sense that McCabe would attempt to boost their morale. As time passed, however, and Comey’s seeming complicity in soft-walking the Clinton e-mail investigation came to light—not to mention his deference to Attorney General Loretta Lynch as she interfered in that investigation—I would imagine that a certain amount of despair set back in. Couple that with the possibility that Comey illegally leaked classified FBI memos in order to spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, and what you have is a serious crisis of confidence.
One also has to wonder how agents now feel about Andrew McCabe, who turned up in Strzok’s texts as being present at a meeting with Lisa Page during which the need for an “insurance policy” in the event of a Trump victory was discussed. Now it appears as if the man giving the pep talk was part of the sordid business that brought the Bureau to such a low point in the first place.
Perhaps McCabe’s words were a salve for all of the honest agents and support personnel who spend every day doing their jobs to the best of their abilities and reflecting on the Bureau with pride and distinction. It’s clear, however, that it will take more than words to fix the problems at the FBI.