FBI agents are worried the White House will squash the biggest case most of them will ever work on — the investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The investigation has gained steam in recent weeks as the probe expanded to include disgraced national security adviser Mike Flynn’s work for the Turkish government, and a Virginia grand jury issued subpoenas for related business and financial records, reported The Daily Beast.
Agents gained a new sense of urgency Tuesday when President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey, which has sparked fear among investigators that the administration will hamper their efforts.
“It’s complete bananas,” one FBI source told The Daily Beast. “Management in counterintelligence are insanely concerned, worried about the overreaching obstruction and political influence from the White House.”
Trump blurted out in an interview Thursday that he fired Comey over the Russia investigation, which he dismissed as “a made-up story” to excuse Hillary Clinton’s election loss.
The bureau’s interim director, Andrew McCabe, told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that the investigation would continue — but there are a lot of ways the White House could hobble the investigation.
Administration sources told The Daily Beast that the FBI’s associate deputy director, David Bowdich, could be pushed out after playing an important role in the ongoing investigation that forced Flynn’s resignation.
Bowdich oversees the FBI’s personnel and budgeting, which could slash resources for the Russia probe.
Sources also told the website that the White House could replace administrative employees with oversight of counterintelligence operations, which could also stall the investigation.
“They could slow down the investigations to a crawl, prevent charges from moving forward to DOJ for prosecution, or any other number of ways the White House could subvert these investigations,” said one former FBI official who worked on the Russia probe.
Another former high-ranking FBI official said the threat of getting fired could be enough to keep agents from digging into Trump’s ties to Russia.
“You have to remember, these agents have families they need to support,” the former official said. “The threat of being fired for doing their job is real here.”
Carrie Cordero, a former attorney in the Justice Department’s National Security Division, told the website that Comey’s support mattered
“He gave the agents, the investigators, cover politically,” Cordero said. “He said, ‘You go where the facts take you and I will handle the politics of it, I’ll go brief the Hill, I’ll hold off the White House.’ He’s the lineman in football, keeping everybody away from the guys that are trying to run or make the pass. He provided a cover for them to do what they needed to get done.”
The investigation is being run out of the FBI headquarters, but some aspects are being handled in field offices — which officials said made the probe hard to stop, but it could still be subverted.
“The orange blob in the WH doesn’t care about anyone or anything he can’t control,” said one former high-ranking official. “He’s made that abundantly clear.”