The Intersection Between the FBI and American Politics

Jake Neher/WDET

The president of the United States appears to be at war with the very agencies that are designed to enforce the law and collect intelligence under his administration.

President Donald Trump is finding ways to discredit the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over an investigation into his connections with the Russian government.

Trump has never shied away from criticizing the investigation — insisting repeatedly there was “no collusion” between his campaign and Kremlin operatives.

Trump’s attempts to quash the investigation at various levels may have him now the subject of an investigation into obstruction of justice. It’s has already been a long and messy road. Now, Republicans in Congress have released a memo with an apparent attempt to putting a cooling effect on Robert Mueller’s investigation. Democrats want to release a counter-memo debunking or clarifying the GOP memo. And at the center of it all is politicization of the FBI and DOJ in a way we haven’t seen in decades.

It really compromises the credibility of the intelligence community that someone would simply disclose this (memo) to the public,”  former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan Barbara McQuade tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson. ”So the cost of this was really quite high. And then you have to ask, at what benefit? What did we get as a result of it? I see a fairly weak allegation that the application may have failed to disclose a political allegation.”

Jake Neher/WDET

Barbara McQuade

One wonders, if the outcome of this was really so underwhelming, is there some other motive afoot? Perhaps to undermine the credibility of the FBI or even the deputy attorney general…Rod Rosenstein,” says McQuade.

Henderson also speaks with Andy Arena, former FBI Detroit Division agent in charge, about his thoughts on the Republican memo and the relationship between the White House and the FBI.

In a perfect world, the FBI should stay above all of that, should be non-political,” says Arena.

We know we don’t live in a perfect world and never have.”


Penn State University associate professor of history Douglas Charles, an FBI historian, also joins the conversation to provide historical context and comparisons.

I think the best comparison is Watergate and President Nixon,” says Charles. “Nixon wanted to shut down the FBI’s probe just like it seems Trump wants to.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: FBI.gov

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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