Donald Trump has given a confusingly mixed message to the FBI, lamenting the “very disgraceful” sactions of the organisation before travelling to address new graduates and telling them he’s a “a true friend and loyal champion”.
Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Friday morning, the President said people are “very, very angry” at what he sees as political bias amongst agents investigating the Russia allegations under special counsel Robert Mueller.
He added: “It’s a shame what happened with the FBI but we’re going to rebuild the FBI, it’ll be bigger and better than ever.
“Everybody ― the level of anger at what they’ve been witnessing with respect to the FBI is certainly very sad.”
Trump then travelled to Quantico, Virginia, to address graduates at the FBI Academy and in a sharp change of tune, said: “I am here not only to congratulate you, but to honour you for your courage and for your devotion and I want you to know that with me as your President, America’s police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House, more loyal than anyone else can be.
“The President of the United States has your back, 100 percent.
“I have so many friends that are police officers, so many people in the FBI, these are great, great people. These are really heroes to all of us.”
Trump’s relationship with the FBI has been extremely fractious since he took office, culminating in the sacking of Director James Comey back in May.
In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI but revealing testimony from Comey to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June hinted at another scenario.
He said that during a dinner in January with just himself and the President present, Trump asked him if he wanted to stay on as Federal Bureau of Investigation director.
Comey said he became concerned that Trump was trying to create “some sort of patronage relationship.”
In the statement Comey added: “That concerned me greatly, given the FBI’s traditionally independent status in the executive branch.”
In May it was reported Trump told Russian officials at the White House that firing FBI Director James Comey relieved “great pressure” and described him as “crazy, a real nut job”.
Trump has continued in his attempts to smear Comey’s legacy and just this month 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.
December 3, 2017
Nope. Not letting this go. The FBI’s reputation is not in “tatters”. It’s composed of the same dedicated men and women who have always worked there and who do a great, apolitical job. You’ll find integrity and honesty at FBI headquarters and not at 1600 Penn Ave right now
December 3, 2017
The FBI is in “tatters”? No. The only thing in tatters is the President’s respect for the rule of law. The dedicated men and women of the FBI deserve better.
December 4, 2017
“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.” Me (June 8, 2017) pic.twitter.com/OZ1ZiBrMNL
December 3, 2017
Wait. Hold. Up. The President of the United States is signaling to a cooperating witness he may get pardoned???!?! https://t.co/AUHXIwnEiF