- REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
- The FBI Agents Association received a significant uptick in donations in December, following President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on the FBI.
- The donations indicate that Trump’s efforts to undermine public confidence in the bureau may be backfiring.
- Former agents and intelligence officials have come out swinging in defense of the employees Trump has attacked.
- Special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the election, and whether Trump obstructed justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey.
The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) reported a “significant uptick” in the number of donations it received in December compared to the same time last year, according to spokesman Paul Nathanson, amid President Donald Trump’s repeated efforts to undermine public confidence in the bureau.
“This month, more than 2,000 donors contributed over $140,000 to our two charitable funds,” FBIAA spokesman Paul Nathanson said in an email. “I can say that it’s a significant uptick in the number of donors and donations that we typically receive in December.”
Nathanson said the donations “will be used to support the two FBI Agents Association charities: The Memorial College Fund, which sends children of deceased Agents to college. And the Membership Assistance Fun, which helps Agents and families facing hardship or tragedy.”
Over the past month, Trump has tweeted that the bureau’s reputation is “in tatters,” attacked the FBI’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, and taken a swipe at the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker.
Following Trump’s attacks, Lawfare editor-in-chief Ben Wittes started the hashtag #thanksFBI and urged his 214,000 Twitter followers to donate to the FBIAA, which says its mission “is to advance & safeguard the careers, economic interests, conditions of employment and welfare” of current and former FBI agents.
“The President is impugning the integrity of the FBI by attacking two honorable public servants: Jim Baker and Andy McCabe,” Wittes wrote on December 23. “I just donated $1,000 to the @FBIAgentsAssoc in their names. I urge others to give as well and tweet that you did so to #thanksFBI.”
Several high-profile former intelligence and national-security officials followed suit, including former CIA Director John Brennan and former Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco.
“Andy McCabe & Jim Baker epitomize integrity, competence, and respect for rule of law,” Brennan tweeted last weekend.
“Not surprised @realDonaldTrump fears them, along with the rest of FBI. I just donated to @FBIAgentsAssoc as a small way of saying #thanksFBI. Here’s how you can too: https://fbiaa.org/ways-to-donate.”
Dozens of Twitter users then screenshot their FBIAA donations, most of which were made in McCabe and Baker’s names.
— Pauli ⛄️ (@pauligirll) December 23, 2017
— Xmas Lumpia Jade (@PinayJade) December 23, 2017
#thanksFBI And thanks @benjaminwittes I just donated in Jim and Andy's name. Hate to see dedicated public servants being harassed by a traitor in Our House. It's disgusting. I hope there is a surge that let's them know we are with them. https://t.co/im16Cj0zOw
— Amy Maguire (@amylee2211) December 23, 2017
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) December 23, 2017
‘Anyone can be attacked for partisan gain’
In another sign of its rising profile, the FBIAA gained approximately 15,000 Twitter followers this month alone. It started December with just over 1,000 followers.
Wittes wrote on Sunday that the campaign had “translated some malicious Trump tweets into both a message of support for the institution he was attacking and financial support for the sort of folks he attacked.”
Trump seemed to live tweet a “Fox and Friends” segment last weekend about McCabe’s wife. She received over $500,000 in 2015 from a political action committee run by former Virginia Gov. McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons. The donations were made nearly a year before McCabe became deputy director.
The president is not the only one attacking the FBI: His allies in Congress and the media have begun to push theories that a swarm of anti-Trump FBI employees are working to take down the White House.
Republican Rep. Francis Rooney said Tuesday that he wants to see the upper ranks of the FBI purged of politically motivated agents who he believes are working for “the deep state.”
Another Florida congressman, Rep. Matt Gaetz, has alleged that Mueller and his team are staging a “coup d’etat” against Trump. Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan has called the FBI “corrupt” and claimed recently that the bureau was “putting together a plan” last year “to keep Donald Trump from becoming the next president of the United States.”
Republican Sen. Rand Paul tweeted a similar assessment last week: “Time to investigate high ranking Obama government officials who might have colluded to prevent the election of @realDonaldTrump! This could be WORSE than Watergate!”
GOP lawmakers have homed in on the FBI’s reported use of the Trump-Russia dossier to bolster its case for a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, and want to know more about a former Justice Department official’s meeting with the opposition research firm Fusion GPS late last year.
Anonymous GOP sources were quoted in a story in Politico last week that suggested Baker, the FBI’s top lawyer who was recently reassigned, potentially leaked the dossier to a Mother Jones reporter.
The critics have also zeroed in on text messages exchanged between FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page during the campaign that expressed disdain for Trump and other political leaders. Strzok was removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in July and Page left for unrelated reasons.
“Sadly, we are now at a point in our political life when anyone can be attacked for partisan gain,” former FBI Director James Comey tweeted last Friday. “James Baker, who is stepping down as FBI General Counsel, served our country incredibly well for 25 years & deserves better. He is what we should all want our public servants to be.”