FBI crusade against Trump has damaged agency’s credibility

Ruben Nararrette
Liberal Opinion

Ruben Navarrette

Columnist, host & author
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Many Republicans remain furious over the FBI’s search of former President Trump’s home for classified documents. Some GOP lawmakers say they don’t trust the bureau anymore, and have even said they are in favor of abolishing the nation’s top law-enforcement agency. Straight Arrow News contributor Ruben Navarrette notes that the FBI’s crusade against Trump has damaged the agency’s credibility.

You see, you don’t have to believe that Trump is totally innocent. What? That he’s never broken the law. Yeah, right. And they didn’t do anything wrong by removing more than 300 classified documents from the White House and then refusing to give them back. Are you kidding? You’re not to believe any of that, to believe that the FBI has it in for the former president. Some historians and political observers say this feud between Trump and the FBI dates back to the 2016 election, when Trump attacked the Bureau for not finding his opponent Hillary Clinton guilty of, wait for it, mishandling government documents. 

Others point out that there were FBI officials who plotted against Trump even before he got elected. Remember that bizarre story about how FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page were in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, meeting with assistant director Andrew McCabe and his office to cook up a quote “insurance policy” to save the country in case Trump won the White House. Still others believe the trouble started in 2017, when Trump fired then-Director James Comey in the middle of investigation by the FBI into whether several Trump advisors were colluding with Russia. It was, after all, the FBI that kept alive the probe into the discredited Steele dossier, which alleged that several Trump operatives worked with the Russians to fix the 2016 election. And speaking of the Steele dossier, it’s possible that the FBI and the Justice Department misled judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, the FISA court, by relegating to a footnote in a surveillance request the fact that the dossier was paid for by – wait for it – the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

I bet all these things played a role in the deterioration of the relationship between Trump and the FBI. How could they not? But I also think that Trump was always destined to clash with the agency because the FBI is the epitome of the Washington, D.C. swamp. And Trump, unlike the current president, who has spent the last 50 years in the Beltway, is a D.C. outsider. The FBI was never going to like Trump, never going to trust him and never feel connected to him. Still, it does appear that some within the bureau got carried away with their dislike for Trump.

How fitting that the symbol of the Republican Party is the elephant. Because when it comes to slights against Republicans, especially those sprung from bias, either actual or perceived, they never forget. 

That’s bad news for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which finds itself now under attack, literally. Last month, 42-year-old MAGA supporter Ricky Schiffer of Columbus, Ohio, tried to storm the FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio, wearing body armor and carrying an AR-15 rifle. Schiffer, who was killed by police, was reportedly enraged by the FBI’s raid on the MAR-a-Lago residence of former President Donald Trump just a few days earlier.

Take it from the son of a retired cop who spent 37 years on the job. What was once widely considered to be the finest law enforcement agency in the United States and perhaps the world, has shredded much of its credibility because of its crusade against Trump. And the FBI’s reputation has been tarnished, not just with MAGA Republicans, but also with fair-minded independents and maybe even some Democrats, if they’re willing to be honest. 

You see, you don’t have to believe that Trump is totally innocent. What? That he’s never broken the law. Yeah, right. And they didn’t do anything wrong by removing more than 300 classified documents from the White House and then refusing to give them back. Are you kidding?

You’re not to believe any of that, to believe that the FBI has it in for the former president. Some historians and political observers say this feud between Trump and the FBI dates back to the 2016 election, when Trump attacked the Bureau for not finding his opponent Hillary Clinton guilty of, wait for it, mishandling government documents. 

Others point out that there were FBI officials who plotted against Trump even before he got elected. Remember that bizarre story about how FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page were in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, meeting with assistant director Andrew McCabe and his office to cook up a quote “insurance policy” to save the country in case Trump won the White House. Still others believe the trouble started in 2017, when Trump fired then-Director James Comey in the middle of investigation by the FBI into whether several Trump advisors were colluding with Russia. It was, after all, the FBI that kept alive the probe into the discredited Steele Dossier, which alleged that several Trump operatives worked with the Russians to fix the 2016 election. And speaking of the Steele Dossier, it’s possible that the FBI and the Justice Department misled judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court, the FISA court, by relegating to a footnote in a surveillance request the fact that the dossier was paid for by – wait for it – the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

I bet all these things played a role in the deterioration of the relationship between Trump and the FBI. How could they not. But I also think that Trump was always destined to clash with the agency because the FBI is the epitome of the Washington, D.C. swamp. And Trump, unlike the current president, who has spent the last 50 years in the Beltway, is a D.C. outsider. The FBI was never going to like Trump, never going to trust him, and never feel connected to him.

Still, it does appear that some within the bureau got carried away with their dislike for Trump. It also didn’t help any that FBI officials took themselves way too seriously, to the point where they convinced themselves that they were the Avengers and it was somehow up to them to go out and defeat Thanos. 

Not their job, not their role. Not good for the country, it turned out. Today, if the FBI finds itself in a hole in terms of the public’s trust and some credibility, that’s on the bureau. They did that. They dug themselves that hole when they stopped being cops and slithered into that snake pit, known as politics.