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Trump launches broadside against his FBI director
[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump renewed his offensive against the US security establishment on Tuesday with a broadside criticising the "attitude" of FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Mr Trump attacked Mr Wray for defending a Justice Department inspector general report that said there was adequate evidence and no politics behind the FBI's opening of an investigation into Russian interference during Mr Trump's victorious 2016 election campaign.
"With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken," Mr Trump tweeted.
The report, issued on Monday, found there had been numerous procedural errors but said there was no political bias against Mr Trump by law enforcement.
Defending the FBI on Monday, Mr Wray said the investigation had been underpinned by "adequate factual predication."
The report starkly contradicted Mr Trump's claims that the investigation - which grew into a sprawling probe of multi-pronged Kremlin interference operations and Mr Trump's business links with Russia - was an "attempted coup."
In fact, the nearly two-year investigation by independent Special Counsel Robert Mueller found extensive contacts between the Trump camp and Russia, though no evidence of a conspiracy.
Mr Mueller's investigation ultimately indicted 24 individuals, most of them Russians charged with counts related to interfering in the election and computer crimes.
Eight people were tried, including six who were members or advisors of trump's election effort, and seven pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial.
Ignoring the inspector general's finding that there was no political motivation, Mr Trump instead focused on the many procedural mistakes highlighted by the inspector general.
"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," Mr Trump tweeted.
Mr Trump has been at odds with much of the national security establishment since he took office and claims, without providing evidence, that a "deep state" is working against him.
His attack on Mr Wray came as the lower house of Congress is poised to impeach Mr Trump on accusations that he tried to force Ukraine into embarrassing a political opponent back home.
Mr Wray took over at the FBI in 2017, replacing an acting director who had held the position since Mr Trump's firing of director James Comey in May that year, just as the Russia probe gathered steam.
BARR SAYS RUSSIA STORY 'HYPED'
Attorney General Bill Barr also disavowed the inspector general report, saying the FBI had insufficient evidence to open the Russia investigation in 2016.
In an interview with MSNBC, he said the justifications to place wiretaps on members of Mr Trump's election campaign who had suspect Russian government contacts were "very flimsy."
He said there were suggestions of a "bad faith" effort to open the investigation that may have been guided by politics - one conclusion the inspector general rejected.
"There could have been different motivations inside and outside the FBI," he said.
Mr Barr made no mention of the charges and convictions that came out of Mr Mueller's investigation, instead dismissing the episode as "hyped."
"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 a completely irresponsible press," Mr Barr said.
"I think there were gross abuses ... and inexplicable behaviour that is intolerable in the FBI."