Trump is Attacking the Most Conservative Agency of the GovernmentRoundup
tags: civil rights, FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, Donald Trump
Garrett M. Graff is a journalist, historian and author, most recently, of Watergate: A New History.
Of all the weird and historically discordant moments and news stories of the Donald Trump era, few seem stranger than watching the former president and his allies demonize the F.B.I. as some sort of rogue “woke” Democratic deep state mob. This has been happening for several years now, but in the days since the F.B.I. searched Mr. Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago, the bureau has attracted particularly withering criticism for its supposedly leftist persecution of Mr. Trump, and Republicans have even begun to call to “defund the corrupt F.B.I.”
Historically, though, the F.B.I. has been arguably the most culturally conservative and traditionally white Christian institution in the entire U.S. government. It’s an institution so culturally conservative, even by the standards of law enforcement, that Democratic presidents have never felt comfortable — or politically emboldened — enough to nominate a Democrat to head the bureau.
That’s right: Far from being a bastion of progressive thinking, every single director of the F.B.I. has been a Republican-aligned official, going all the way back to its creation. Such history suggests that the issue here is Mr. Trump and not institutional bias.
Its current director, Christopher Wray, who oversaw the agents conducting last week’s search of Mar-a-Lago, was nominated by Mr. Trump himself and came to the job with sterling Republican credentials: He was the head of the criminal division in George W. Bush’s Justice Department, a member of the conservative Federalist Society and a clerk for Judge J. Michael Luttig, a Republican judicial icon.
Mr. Wray replaced the F.B.I. director Mr. Trump fired, James Comey, who had been nominated by Barack Obama and was the former deputy attorney general of George W. Bush’s Justice Department. His predecessor Robert Mueller, who served in the Justice Department for both Bush presidencies, was nominated by George W. Bush.
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