Rank-and-file FBI agents say they cannot see how FBI Director Christopher A. Wray stays in his position after The Washington Times’ exclusive report about a senior bureau official stepping down under scrutiny for suspected political bias affecting investigations.
That includes recent whistleblower disclosures to House Judiciary Committee Republicans about agents being forced or coerced into signing false affidavits and claims of sexual harassment and stalking. It also includes fabricated terrorism cases to elevate performance statistics, as reported this month by The Times.
In response, the FBI released this statement to The Times:
“The men and women of the FBI work hard every day to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. All employees are held to the highest standards of professional and ethical conduct, and we expect them to focus on process, rigor, and objectivity in performance of their duties. Allegations of misconduct are taken seriously and referred to the Inspection Division or appropriate investigative body. In reality, the FBI is comprised of 37,000 employees who do it the right way on a daily basis to keep our nation safe by fighting violent crime, preventing terrorist attacks and defending America from espionage and cyber threats.”
The increased scrutiny on the conduct of FBI agents, including accusations of politicized investigations, led to the exit of a top official last week, as first reported by The Times on Monday.
Timothy Thibault, an assistant special agent in charge at the FBI’s Washington field office, was forced to leave his post last week, according to information from two former FBI officials familiar with the situation.
At a recent Senate hearing, Republicans questioned Mr. Wray about Mr. Thibault, who made anti-Trump statements in social media posts in 2020. At the time, Mr. Thibault led the FBI’s investigation of Hunter Biden, whose father was running for the White House.
In February and September of 2020, Mr. Thibault liked separate Washington Post opinion pieces criticizing Attorney General William Barr for not being more aggressive in prosecuting President Trump’s political allies and close associates.
Mr. Thibault also retweeted a post by the Lincoln Project, a Republican group that called Mr. Trump “a psychologically broken, embittered and deeply unhappy man.”
Mr. Wray was evasive about Mr. Thibault and his social media posts. He called them “ongoing personnel matters.”
Rank-and-file agents are now privately urging Mr. Wray to step down.
Republican lawmakers have previously called for the resignation of Mr. Wray, whom Mr. Trump appointed in 2017.
The first call for his resignation was in 2018. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who is now a U.S. senator, criticized the FBI for failing to properly investigate a tip about the Parkland shooter. In 2020, then-Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia Republican, called for Mr. Wray’s resignation for the way he handled the Trump-Russia investigation.
“For Wray, not tolerating it means he doesn’t do anything. And that’s what I think people are people reacting to because at this point you need to have leadership’s stepping-up and taking charge, and there is a complete leadership vacuum.”
The increased scrutiny of the FBI includes accusations that bureau officials routinely violate federal whistleblower protections for employees. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s top Republican, recently introduced legislation to improve those protections.
The legislation would allow FBI whistleblowers to appeal retaliation cases to the Merit Systems Protection Board, a quasi-judicial agency that oversees most other federal whistleblower cases.
The act also would allow FBI whistleblower retaliation cases to proceed to the board if the FBI has not issued a ruling within 180 days, the length of time the FBI attempts to complete an investigation and adjudication of a misconduct case. FBI whistleblowers are not given the same anti-retaliation protections as most other federal employees.
• Kerry Picket can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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