FBI Director Christopher A. Wray decried the government shutdown’s impact on the bureau’s employees in a video message released amid rising anxiety among thousands of agents and other personnel who have spent more than a month working without pay.
In the unusual video message, Wray also offered a seeming apology for why the FBI’s top officials were not publicly arguing for their employees, suggesting that they have not spoken out because of the repeated political criticisms of the bureau from President Trump and others in recent years.
“You know better than most that we’ve been thrust into the political spotlight more than we would have liked over the past few years,” Wray said in the message, which was directed to FBI staff. “And the last thing this organization needs now is its leadership to wade into the middle of a full-on political dispute.”
They eventually allowed her to make a call, but she still hadn’t decided whether she would help the FBI. Then the agents threatened to go after her family.
“He said, ‘Well, you should know, we’re also thinking about prosecuting your mum for the things you said she did on the tape,'” she said, crying.
“In order to cooperate and avoid charges, I would have to make monitored phone calls which they would listen in to and record and I might have to wear a wire and go see people in person.
“I was mortified and afraid of what this would do to my family. I was still in love with Bill at the time so I felt really responsible.”
Two decades on from the outbreak of the scandal, the now public figure and writer said she still doesn’t “feel comfortable talking about it”, but the one thing that she’s adamant about is that despite the moral and ethical implications, it was a consensual relationship.
“It’s not as if it didn’t register with me that he was the president. Obviously it did,” she said.
“‘But I think in one way the moment we were actually in the back office for the first time the truth is I think it meant more to me the someone who other people desired, desired me.
“However wrong it was, however misguided, for who I was at that time, at 22 years old, it was how I felt.”
Many agents who worked under him say this personality made him the perfect person to remake the bureau after the Sept. 11 attacks. Others chafed at his unrelenting style. A common criticism is that, after 12 years in office, he had filled the F.B.I.’s senior ranks with two types of people:
- big personalities whose naturally intense styles matched his, and
- those who ultimately submitted to his will.
It is not that he was uncaring; colleagues recall his compassion during difficult periods in their lives. Rather, he is focused — at the expense of nearly everything else — on the job.
“He didn’t care about internal politics. He doesn’t care about people’s reactions to things,” Ms. Arguedas said.
.. When Mr. Mueller learned that C.I.A. officers were waterboarding prisoners, locking them in coffins, chaining them to walls and keeping them awake for days, he famously ordered his F.B.I. agents not to participate.
For Democrats and human rights advocates, it was a laudatory but ultimately mealy-mouthed response. The F.B.I., after all, has the authority to investigate torture and prison abuses.
“Why did you not take more substantial steps to stop the interrogation techniques that your own F.B.I. agents were telling you were illegal?” Representative Robert Wexler, Democrat of Florida, asked in 2008.
For Mr. Mueller, the answer was obvious. The Justice Department had declared the C.I.A. tactics legal, and it was not his job to challenge that conclusion.
.. That may be why Mr. Mueller has allowed negotiations to drag on for more than eight months over whether Mr. Trump will sit for an interview. Forcing the issue with a subpoena would test the limits of executive power, and Mr. Mueller does not make such moves lightly.
- .. “He wants the public to believe he gave the president every opportunity to have his side heard.”
- .. She opposed a Justice Department policy shielding federal prosecutors from oversight by state ethics officials, and she suspected he felt the same way. But he refused to budge, even privately. “It’s an institution,” she said, “and you follow the rules.”
- .. He is heard from so infrequently that, when Robert De Niro and Kate McKinnon portrayed him on “Saturday Night Live,” neither even tried to mimic his voice. For someone who spent more than a decade in some of Washington’s most important jobs, Mr. Mueller is most often seen in brief archival video clips or old photographs.
. For someone who spent more than a decade in some of Washington’s most important jobs, Mr. Mueller is most often seen in brief archival video clips or old photographs.
.. A less splashy finale suits Mr. Mueller. He likes letting documents do the talking, and as a prosecutor and F.B.I. director, colleagues said, he regularly excised hyperbole or flourish from his prepared public comments.
.. One of the defining moments of his F.B.I. tenure came in 2004, when Mr. Mueller and the deputy attorney general, James B. Comey, raced to the hospital room of the ailing attorney general, John Ashcroft.
.. When Mr. Mueller next appeared before Congress, Democrats had to claw to extract even the barest confirmation from Mr. Mueller. “I don’t dispute what Mr. Comey says,” he said bluntly. Mr. Mueller had a powerful political story but went to great lengths to avoid fueling the fight.
.. “I guess it covered very generally what had happened in the moments before,” Mr. Mueller said, not giving an inch.
“And what had happened in the moments before?”
“Well, again,” Mr. Mueller said, “I resist getting into conversations.”
That moment revealed not only Mr. Mueller’s reluctance to be drawn into a political fight, but also the contrast with Mr. Comey, who would succeed him at the F.B.I. While the two men share mutual respect, friends say the two have never been personally close — despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to paint them as such. Among their biggest differences, Mr. Comey was at ease in the limelight and made contentious decisions in the name of transparency during the investigation of Hillary Clinton.
.. Mr. Mueller has always preferred to let others do the talking. If, as special counsel, he unearths evidence that Mr. Trump committed a crime, former colleagues say they are certain he will try to hold Mr. Trump accountable. But if the evidence is not clear cut, they say, he will not feel compelled to tell a story just because it involves the president.
.. Mr. Pistole and others said they had no doubt that Mr. Mueller was bothered by Mr. Trump’s tweets accusing the F.B.I. and the Justice Department — two agencies he dedicated his life to — of being part of a “deep state” working against his presidency.
As for the president’s remarks about Mr. Mueller and his team personally? “I wouldn’t be surprised if he is somewhat unconscious about all of this,” Ms. Haag said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was in one ear and out the other.”
- .. Mr. Mueller has shown that he is interested in investigating Mr. Trump’s tweets when they might be evidence of a crime. Everything else is just background noise.
“He’s going to find out what there is to find out, and he’s going to say it in the most straightforward, neutral way possible,” Ms. Arguedas said. “And then he’s going to walk away, because his job will be done. He won’t go on any talk shows, and he won’t write a book.”
Team McCaskill is already employing the Democratic Party’s go-to tactic this midterm: character assassination. There’s not much else. The economy is humming, the party’s centrist and liberal wings are fighting, and the drumbeat of impending Trump doom isn’t finding much accompaniment. So in Missouri as elsewhere, candidates are reverting to personal attacks. But the McCaskill forces are piling on a guy who isn’t even running.
.. Indeed, they are attacking a private citizen and donor, David Humphreys. Back in March, Chuck Schumer’s Senate Majority PAC began plowing millions into attacks on the businessman, who donated to Mr. Hawley’s campaign for attorney general. The pattern is the same: An ad makes a malicious accusation against Mr. Humphreys, then sidles over to tar Mr. Hawley with guilt by association. Just how invested are they in this strategy? Since airing their first spot, 70% of Democratic ads—amounting to $4.7 million—have been focused on Mr. Humphreys... Mr. Humphreys is a long and active participant in Missouri civic life. He’s been a major backer of judicial reform, so the trial bar loathes him. He pushed hard for the state’s recently enacted right-to-work law, so unions loathe him. He sits on the boards of the free-market Cato and Acton institutes, so liberals in general loathe him... A liberal organization, Campaign for Accountability, sought to keep the affair in the news by filing an official complaint with a federal prosecutor in Missouri. It may now wish it hadn’t. Mr. Humphreys’s attorney recently got a letter from U.S. Attorney Timothy Garrison, stating that his office had followed protocol and referred the issue to the FBI, which determined that “there was no basis for further inquiry.”.. That won’t stop the attacks because they serve a greater purpose. Beyond the smears against Messrs. Hawley and Humphreys, such ads are a warning to other donors. Don’t get involved, or your reputations and businesses will be next... Intimidation and threats, leveled against private citizens, are now standard liberal practice... It isn’t about transparency in the public interest; it’s about identifying new political targets.