Travel

Politics

Non-Partisan, but Not Neutral

Half Full

Eat. Drink. Think.

World News

Dictators, Dissidents and Dangerous Places

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast
Banana Republican

Trump’s Latest FBI Attack Stuns, Saddens Justice Dept. Officials: ‘We’re in Venezuela’

‘You can’t overstate how critical it is that people who have information trust us to protect them,’ said a federal prosecutor, adding that Trump is working to break that trust.

President Donald Trump’s latest round of attacks on the FBI has left morale at the Justice Department at a new low, with officials bemoaning what they view as a full-frontal assault on their institution.

“It’s a deliberate campaign to delegitimize institutions where the people who are inside those institutions are professionals and giving up lots of money for the jobs that they’re doing and it’s extremely demoralizing,” said one current federal prosecutor.

“As my father used to say, history goes forward and backward. And things go backward when the trust in bedrock institutions—which are trustworthy, by the way—is diminished for the benefit of a few. It accelerates, and you wake up one day and we’re in Venezuela.”

Trump has been pushing a conspiracy theory that the FBI sicced a spy on his campaign during the election season. In reality, a longtime FBI informant—per numerous reports—spoke with several Trump campaign officials, including Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, and shared the information with FBI investigators. The Daily Caller reported the name of the person believed to be that informant.

Using informants is typical for federal law enforcement, including in large and complex cases like the one involving Team Trump. But the president took to Twitter to assert that something more nefarious may have happened.

“I hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes - and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” he tweeted on Sunday.

After the president’s tweet, a spokesperson for the Justice Department announced that the department’s inspector general would expand an existing probe to look into “whether there was any impropriety or political motivation in how the FBI conducted its counterintelligence investigation of persons suspected of involvement with the Russian agents who interfered in the 2016 presidential election.”

On Monday afternoon, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein—who is overseeing the Russia probe—met with Trump, along with Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and FBI Director Chris Wray.

The attacks have left many in the DOJ feeling beleaguered and demoralized.

“Where I sit, people mostly suffer in silence,” one federal prosecutor told The Daily Beast. He pointed to a piece in the blog Lawfare by Ben Wittes and Quinta Jurecic as capturing “a feeling that’s broadly held” in the department. Wittes and Jurecic wrote that the revelation of the identity of the alleged informant “will have a long tail and big consequences—all of them terrible.”

“You can’t overstate how critical it is for us—and in particular for the FBI—that people who have information to share will trust us to protect them,” the prosecutor continued. “My personal view is that Trump and [House Intel Chair Devin] Nunes must know that their actions will give pause to anyone considering cooperation with the special counsel, and that’s part of their plan—the consequences for law enforcement writ large be damned.”

Another DOJ official told The Daily Beast that morale at the FBI has hit rock bottom. That official said he hears a constant refrain, over and over, among his colleagues: “This is such a dark time for the FBI.”

Cheat Sheet®

The 10 Most Important Stories Right Now

  1. 1. QUID PRO QUO

    Report: U.S., China Agree on Terms to Lift Sales Ban on ZTE

    The blacklisted company will reportedly be allowed to do business with U.S. firms in exchange for changes to its management structure.

  2. 2. KEEPING IT REAL

    Report: Aides Write Trump’s Tweets With Errors to Mimic Him

    Staffers reportedly believe the mistakes make him more relatable to members of his base.

  3. 3. DEPRESSING

    Trump Seeks to Lift Restrictions on Hunting Bears, Wolves

    Proposed changes would allow hunters on certain public lands in Alaska to kill mother black bears and cubs in their dens.

  4. 4. PAGEANTRY

    Miss Nebraska Wins Miss USA Crown

    The 23-year-old college graduate will go on to represent the U.S. in the Miss Universe competition.

  5. 5. Secure

    Control This TSA-Approved Luggage Lock From Your Phone

    Ad by Daily Beast Shop

  6. 6. THANKS BUT NO THANKS

    Corker Declined Trump’s Offer to Be Ambassador to Australia

    “It just felt like it wasn’t the right step.”

  7. 7. EXPOSED

    Report: Trump Won’t Let Staffers Beef Up His iPhone Security

    The president reportedly bemoaned the requests as “too inconvenient.”

  8. 8. PAY-TO-PLAY

    Report: Broidy Tried to Use Trump Access to Win Contracts

    And at the same time push anti-Qatar policies, according to an Associated Press investigation.

  9. 9. OUTFOXED

    Charlize Theron to Star as Megyn Kelly in Movie About Ailes

    The film will reportedly be directed by Jay Roach.

  10. 10. CONSEQUENCES

    Teen Arsonist Ordered to Pay $36 Million for Wildfire

    The Eagle Creek wildfire burned more than 48,000 acres last year.