Former FBI and CIA Director Says Trump Calling FBI Professionals 'Scum' is 'Slur Against People Who Risk Their Lives to Keep us Safe'

The only person to lead both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation said President Donald Trump had "slurred" FBI professionals by calling them "scum," in an editorial appearing in Monday's edition of The New York Times.

William Webster, who headed the FBI from 1978 to 1987 and the CIA from 1987 to 1991, claimed that the Trump administration had engaged in "deeply disturbing" behavior in attacking people who work for the FBI.

In contrast to the administration's view, Webster did not dispute the findings of the recently released U.S. Justice Department report on the FBI's investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Webster described the "aspersions cast" on the FBI by Trump and members of his administration as "troubling in the extreme." Trump described individuals in the FBI as "scum" in a December 10 campaign stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

"Calling F.B.I. professionals 'scum,' as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe," wrote Webster in the article.

Newsweek reached out to the White House for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Trump and Attorney General William Barr both went on the offensive after the release of Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report on December 9, which concluded that the FBI's decision to initiate the Russia investigation was unbiased and justified.

Trump claimed the report showed he was the victim of an attempted "overthrow of government," despite the fact that he had not yet been elected when the investigation began.

Trump Rally
President Donald Trump called members of the FBI "scum" at a campaign rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania on December 10, 2019. Mark Makela/Getty

FBI Director Christopher Wray insisted that the Inspector General's report "did not find political bias or improper motivation" behind the Russia investigation in an ABC interview on December 9. Trump lashed out at Wray after the interview.

"I don't know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn't the one given to me," tweeted Trump on December 10. "With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!"

Webster insisted the FBI was not broken and said Trump's remarks were a "thinly veiled suggestion" Wray could be fired for not falling in line with the administration's differing interpretation of the report, interfering with the independent nature of the agency.

In his Pennsylvania campaign stop, Trump took an indirect swipe at Wray by saying the FBI had "great people but not in leadership." When nominating him to head the agency in 2017, the president was full of praise for Wray, describing him as a "man of impeccable credentials."

Barr backed up Trump's claims about the Horowitz report in a December 10 interview with NBC News. He also blamed the press for allegedly promoting a "bogus narrative" that led to the Russia investigation.

"I think our nation was turned on its head for three years based on a completely bogus narrative that was largely fanned and hyped by an irresponsible press," Barr told NBC.

Webster did not agree with Barr's claim, saying the evidence prompting the launch of the investigation was "unassailable."

"Mr. Barr's charges of bias within the F.B.I., made without providing any evidence and in direct dispute of the findings of the nonpartisan inspector general, risk inflicting enduring damage on this critically important institution," he wrote in the article.

The former director also sharply criticized Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, saying his recent actions concerning the Ukraine scandal have "failed the smell test of propriety."

Republican Webster was appointed to lead the FBI by Democratic President Jimmy Carter. He claimed that neither Carter nor President Ronald Reagan, under whom he finished his term, ever attempted to exert their influence over the FBI while he was in charge.