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 impacting investigations.
Kurt Siuzdak, an attorney and former FBI agent who represents whistleblowers at the bureau, said agents are telling him that Mr. Wray has lost control of the agency and that he should resign.
“I’m hearing from [FBI personnel] that they feel like the director has lost control of the bureau,” he said. “They’re saying, ‘How does this guy survive? He’s leaving. He’s got to leave.”
FBI whistleblowers, who are talking to Congress about corruption and retaliation against them, say in their disclosures that Mr. Wray was often notified of the problems that existed within the bureau but never took action to resolve the issues.
This includes recent whistleblower disclosures to the House Judiciary Republicans relating to forcing or coercing agents to sign false affidavits, sexual harassment and stalking claims and fabricated terrorism cases to elevate performance statistics, as exclusively reported by The Times earlier this month.
“[The FBI agents] are telling me they have lost confidence in Wray. All Wray does is go in and say we need more training and we’re doing stuff about it, or we will not tolerate it,” Mr. Siuzdak said.
SEE ALSO: Top agent exits FBI amid charge of political bias undermining Hunter Biden probe, sources say
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 allegations of politicization of 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.
GOP lawmakers, at a recent Senate hearing, 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, President Biden, was running for the White House.
In February and September of 2020, Mr. Thibault liked separate Washington Post opinion pieces criticizing Attorney General William P. Barr for not more aggressively prosecuting former 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, calling them “ongoing personnel matters.”
Rank-and-file agents are now privately urging Mr. Wray to step down.
GOP lawmakers have previously called for the resignation of Mr. Wray, who was appointed by President Trump in 2017.
He was first called on to resign from his position in 2018 by then-Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who is now a U.S. senator. He criticized the FBI for failing to investigate a tip about the Parkland shooter properly. In 2020, then-Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia Republican, called for his resignation over how 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 FBI employees. Legislation to improve those protections was recently introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the committee’s top Republican.
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 allows FBI whistleblower retaliation cases to proceed to the board if the FBI has not issued a ruling within 180 days, the present length of time the FBI attempts to complete an investigation and adjudication of a misconduct case. FBI whistleblowers are not presently given the same anti-retaliation protections as most federal employees.