The head of the FBI on Thursday pushed back on President Trump’s condemnation of the agency earlier this week, defending its reputation and the work of its employees.
FBI Director Christopher Wray’s comments came at a House Judiciary Committee hearing just days after Trump tweeted the agency’s reputation was “in tatters” and that Wray should “clean house.” The director, who Trump appointed earlier this year after firing James Comey, said he admired his colleagues at the bureau and saw a different side of the agency than the one Trump described.
"There is no shortage of opinions out there,” Wray said. “The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women who are working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm. The FBI that I see is people, decent people committed to the highest principles of integrity, and professionalism, and respect," Wray continued. "The FBI that I see is respected and appreciated by our partners," including those in the Intelligence Community, law enforcement, and countries around the world."
Asked about Trump’s tweet directly, Wray had nothing but positive things to say about the FBI.
“My experience with the FBI has been positive enormous faith and confidence in the people who work there” he said. “I see example after example of fidelity and bravery and integrity everywhere I go within the organization and I could not be more proud to be sitting here as one of their colleagues.”
He later added the agency’s reputation, in his experience, was “quite good.”
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Thursday the administration did not believe there was any discrepancy between what the director said and what the president said, walking back some of the Trump’s comments.
“We agree with Director Wray that FBI field agents are appreciated and respected,” Sanders said. “The president’s issues are with the political leaders under former Director Comey.”
Wray’s perspective has been backed up by employee surveys that showed FBI’s workforce held former Director Comey in high regard and were generally satisfied with their jobs. The 2017 Best Places to Work rankings, put together by the Partnership for Public Service based on data compiled by the Office of Personnel Management’s annual employee survey, showed the FBI’s composite satisfaction score dropped 2.1 points on an indexed 100-point scale. After increasing for two consecutive years, employees’ ratings of senior leaders also dropped 2.1 points.
Trump fired Comey on May 9, the same day OPM finished sending out the 2017 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.
Wray maintained that Trump’s criticisms of his workforce would not negatively impact the agency.
“The agents, analysts and staff of the FBI are big boys and girls,” he said.