WASHINGTON, U.S. - After U.S. President Donald Trump critiqued the FBI, saying its reputation is “in tatters” - he invited a barrage of criticism.
Thrashing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) amid intensifying investigation into the Russia probe, Trump said that FBI’s reputation “is in tatters.”
In a tweet early on Sunday morning, Trump said that the FBI's "reputation is in Tatters - worst in History!"
Trump tweeted, “After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”
Trump’s tweet came after reports that a veteran FBI counterintelligence agent had been removed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian election meddling because of anti-Trump text messages.
Commenting on the report, Trump called the agent who was removed from Mueller's team a "Tainted (no, very dishonest?)" agent.
The president also retweeted a tweet suggesting FBI Director Chris Wray "needs to clean house."
Trump even said he never asked the former FBI director James Comey to stop investigating ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, issuing a fresh denial amid a shifting timeline on when he may have known that Flynn had lied to the FBI.
He said, “I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn. Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!”
Flynn is the first member of the Trump administration to plead guilty in Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
In the tweet on the same day, Trump even promised to restore FBI’s reputation, vowing, “Fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”
Comey was fired by Trump in May, citing the former FBI director’s mishandling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she was serving in former President Barack Obama’s administration.
On Monday, Comey and former attorney general Sally Yates, who were both fired by Trump, led the criticism against the President for his statement.
Republican senator Lindsey Graham said Trump's comments and tweets on ongoing investigations were at his "own peril.”
Some even suggested that the U.S. president may have admitted obstructing justice in his tweets.
While Trump has denied that his team colluded with Russia to get him elected, four members have now been charged as part of the FBI inquiry lead by Robert Mueller.
Yates hit back at Trump's criticism, tweeting that “the dedicated men and women of the FBI deserve better” and that the "only thing in tatters is the President's respect for the rule of law.”
Meanwhile, Comey, who was fired by Trump and has testified in the investigation, posted a strong rebuttal of the president's criticism of the organisation.
He posted a quote from himself in June that said, "I want the American people to know this truth: The FBI is honest. The FBI is strong. And the FBI is, and always will be, independent."
Meanwhile, former director of national intelligence James Clapper too pushed back on President Trump’s criticism of the FBI and said that the bureau "is the premier law enforcement organization" in the world.
Clapper, who oversaw the intelligence community under former President Barack Obama and has been a prominent critic of Trump said, “Apart form the ridiculous substance of the charge, the FBI is the premier law enforcement organization, not just in this country, but in the world.”
Adding, “And it is not in tatters. It is a superb organization with tremendous men and women who are dedicated, and - many of whom put their lives on the line every day for the safety and security of this country.”
Clapper said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray should address Trump’s criticism of the bureau.
He said, “But regrettably, this is – this seems to be the common practice of President Trump.”