Rank-and-file confidence in the FBI’s senior leadership has taken a sharp hit.
That’s the bottom line from the bureau’s latest “climate survey,” the results obtained on Friday through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. Across an array of metrics, both at headquarters and in the FBI’s 56 field offices, employees still express high esprit de corps about the FBI itself and their work for the bureau. But when asked about confidence in the vision of the FBI director, the value of direct communications from him, the honesty and integrity of senior bureau leaders, or respondents’ respect for those leaders, there is a striking drop in confidence from previous years. Some questions from prior years that might have been particularly evocative were not even asked in this most recent survey.
There are a number of reasons FBI employees might be feeling alienated from the leadership. This year’s data, collected in February and March, captures reactions to a number of major developments over the past year, including the firing of James Comey as FBI director, the removal of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, countless attacks by President Trump on federal law enforcement, the controversy over text exchanges between counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, and the proliferation of a conservative media narrative that portrays the FBI as ground zero in a “Deep State” conspiracy.