The former FBI and CIA director took aim on Monday at President Donald Trump and two old friends — Attorney General Bill Barr and Rudy Giuliani.
William Webster led the FBI for nine years and the CIA for four, serving under presidents Carter, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush. He’s the only person to hold both jobs. Since 2005, he’s chaired the Homeland Security Advisory Council, part of the Department of Homeland Security.
So his words carry some weight in national security circles. And in an op-ed in the New York Times on Monday, Webster didn’t pull any punches.
“Today, the integrity of the institutions that protect our civil order are, tragically, under assault from too many people whose job it should be to protect them,” Webster wrote.
The op-ed largely focused on a recent Justice Department inspector general’s report that examined the beginnings of the Russia probe. Trump, Barr and congressional Republicans have used its findings to attack the FBI. But while the report found “significant” issues with the application to surveil Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, it also found that there was sufficient grounds to launch the probe.
Addressing the president’s own actions first, Webster said he was “deeply disturbed” by Trump’s recent comments about FBI director Christopher Wray — who he noted Trump refers to as the “current director.”
“The president’s thinly veiled suggestion that the director, Christopher Wray, like his banished predecessor, James Comey, could be on the chopping block, disturbs me greatly,” Webster wrote.
The aspersions cast on the FBI by Webster’s “longtime friend” Bill Barr “are troubling in the extreme,” he said.
“The country can ill afford to have a chief law enforcement officer dispute the Justice Department’s own independent inspector general’s report and claim that an F.B.I. investigation was based on ‘a completely bogus narrative,’” Webster wrote, referring to the attorney general’s comments undermining the DOJ’s top internal watchdog.
Webster ended the op-ed with a jab at Giuliani, “another longtime, respected friend.”
The former New York mayor — whose tenure as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York overlapped with Webster’s leadership at the FBI and CIA — has been Trump’s point man in Ukraine, and his efforts to dig of dirt on Trump’s political rivals have resulted in articles of impeachment being drafted against the President.
“His activities of late concerning Ukraine have, at a minimum, failed the smell test of propriety,” Webster wrote.