Ex-CIA Chief Brennan Joins Former Intel Officials to Defend Besieged FBI Leaders
By Cathy Burke
Former intelligence officials are defending FBI leaders under attack for alleged political bias — including former CIA director John Brennan, who argues President Donald Trump “fears” them.
The defense comes as James Baker, the FBI’s top lawyer, was reassigned and deputy director Andrew McCabe faces fire from Trump for contributions to his wife’s 2015 state Senate campaign.
Trump targeted both leaders on Twitter over the weekend.
But on Sunday, Brennan tweeted his own response to the online attacks.
Andy McCabe & Jim Baker epitomize integrity, competence, and respect for rule of law. 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://t.co/eSCrfJxxwx https://t.co/QIzsn6EGYY
— John O. Brennan (@JohnBrennan) December 24, 2017
Brennan added that he had donated to the FBI Agents Association, and encouraged others to do the same.
Business Insider noted the timing of Baker’s reassignment — and a controversial Politico piece posted last Friday — has led some former Justice Department and FBI officials to wonder whether it was, at least partially, a political decision made under mounting pressure from Trump and his allies.
“I have no problem with the idea that (FBI Director Christopher) Wray should pick his own team over time, including his own general counsel,” Benjamin Wittes, an expert in national security law and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has known Baker for years, told BI.
“The idea that Jim should stay in place indefinitely is not what I would argue,” Wittes said. “But, if I were Wray and I meant to replace my general counsel, the antics of the last two weeks would have convinced me not to do it under fire to make sure no one thinks I am giving the administration a scalp.”
Frank Montoya, Jr., a former senior FBI official who worked closely with McCabe before retiring in 2016, said on Saturday — before news broke that McCabe planned to leave the bureau — that he suspected McCabe would retire as soon as he was eligible.
“Most guys are leaving right when they are eligible,” Montoya said, Business Insider reported. “That’s been the case for years. But if he goes, it will be of his own accord, not because he was pushed out.”
David Kris, a former Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, also defended Baker.
“I have known Jim Baker for many years, in and out of government,” Kris said on Saturday, BI reported. “And I know him to be a person, and public servant, of the highest moral character and integrity.”
And Gen. Michael Hayden, the former head of both the CIA and the National Security Agency, tweeted on Friday that “Jim was/is a wonderful PUBLIC servant.”