On Tuesday's edition of CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," former FBI general counsel James Baker warned that President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr's attempts to smear and discredit the FBI — even in the face of an inspector general report broadly exonerating their investigation of Russia — could lead to FBI agents steering away from investigations of future election interference.
"I think it sends a terrible message," said Baker. "The president's statements, I think in his tweet, whenever it was, about Director Wray — I mean, the FBI is not a 'broken' organization. It is not and has not been. It's a tremendous organization. It's out there every day defending America. So the American people should rest assured that the FBI is there, doing its job. It's protecting all of us."
"That being said, it's demoralizing, I think, when the attorney general makes these statements about the investigative work we did, and certainly deters people from wanting to be involved in these cases," continued Baker. "The FBI has a lot of stuff on its plate, a lot of sensitive matters that they need to pursue aggressively and need to be encouraged to be aggressive to protect us within the bounds of the law, but not to be — not to be commented on and said to be spying. Because if this is spying, then under the attorney general guidelines and the law supported by Mr. Barr, then his Department of Justice and FBI are spying all the time, because this is lawful activity, it's not spying."