Donald Trump has lashed out at FBI director Christopher Wray over a watchdog report on the Russia investigation.
In an interview with the Associated Press Monday, Mr Wray acknowledged the report had identified significant problems with how agents conducted the investigation into ties between Russia and Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and pledged to make changes.
But he also said it was important” that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, found that the investigation was opened for a proper cause and was not affected by political bias.
Mr Wray told ABC News in a separate interview that he did not believe the Trump campaign had been unfairly targeted. The FBI also issued a statement stressing that the report “does not impugn the FBI’s institutional credibility”.
That provoked a sharp reaction from Mr Trump on Twitter.
“I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me,” Trump tweeted.
“With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!”
The tweet was a rare direct attack on Mr Wray, who has largely been spared the public ire the president vented at former FBI director James Comey — whom he fired in May 2017 — and at Andrew McCabe, who temporarily replaced Mr Comey but was later fired by the Justice Department.
I don’t know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn’t the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019
Mr Wray inherited a year-old Russia investigation when he was installed in August 2017 and, by that point, the probe was already in the hands of special counsel Robert Mueller.
He has kept a mostly low profile, rarely speaking in depth about the investigation or engaging in public conflicts with a White House that claims political bias in the US intelligence community.
Although he has appeared reluctant to respond aloud to Mr Trump’s criticism of the FBI, he has also defended the interests of the bureau even when it has put him at odds with the president.
He has said he does not believe Mr Mueller’s investigation was a “witch hunt”, as Mr Trump has insisted, and resisted efforts last year by the White House and congressional Republicans to declassify information from the Russia probe that was subsequently released.
Mr Wray struck a similar balance in his comments on Monday, seizing on findings from the inspector general favourable to the FBI while also making a point to highlight the significant problems it found.
Those issues, he told AP, were “unacceptable and unrepresentative of who we are as an institution”.