Nearly two years ago, FBI Director Chris Wray set up an office tasked solely with stopping the type of Russian interference efforts that infected the 2016 campaign.
On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump undercut the whole operation in a matter of seconds.
In an ABC News interview, the president first proclaimed he would have no problem accepting dirt on his opponents from a foreign power, then said Wray was “wrong” to suggest the FBI needs to know about such offers.
The comments, according to interviews with nearly a dozen law enforcement veterans, have undone months of work, essentially inviting foreign spies to meddle with 2020 presidential campaigns and demoralizing the agents trying to stop them. And it has backed Wray into a corner, they added, putting him in a position where he might have to either publicly chastise the president and risk getting fired, or resign in protest.
America’s enemies will see Trump’s comments and likely “come out of the woodwork like never before to try to influence the president,” said longtime FBI veteran Frank Figliuzzi, who served as the bureau’s assistant director for counterintelligence until 2012. “And it’s going to be more difficult to defend against because they’ll try harder than ever to mask their attempts.”
There were 13 enemies mentioned by President Donald Trump a total of 76 times on Twitter in the last week:
1. Mexico = 25 tweets
2. the Democrats = 13
3. Robert Mueller or the Special Counsel = 7
4. the news media = 6
5. CNN = 6
6. The New York Times = 5
7. Congress = 5
8. Nancy Pelosi = 3
9. NBC = 2
10. Barack Obama = 1
11. Chuck Schumer = 1
12. the Washington Post = 1
13. Joe Biden = 1
Congratulations to Mexico, the top Trump enemy this week!
“‘Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table’ — Donald J. Trump.” The crowd burst into applause. … ‘Just kidding,’ he said. ‘That was Barack Obama.’ The cheering abruptly stopped. The crowd went mostly silent. There was a lone boo.”