The confrontation between Donald Trump and the FBI, the federal investigative body looking into possible Russian influence in the U.S. presidential election, appears to be resolving itself in Trump’s favor. If so, it will reinforce the image that Trump created last Tuesday during his first State of the Union address. It was during that speech that the current occupant of the White House appeared to have the full support of a Republican Party that has apparently surrendered itself to the arms of populist discourse.
FBI Director Christopher Wray has faced direct pressure from Trump since Trump discovered that the FBI tried to publicize a Republican Party report condemning the president’s attitude, during the investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. Wray is the second FBI director to serve during Trump’s short time in office. Former FBI Director James Comey was fired by the president barely a month after his arrival at the White House while investigating Russian connections to the presidential election.*
This confirms that Trump’s surprising and sometimes public lack of trust in his intelligence services is not a rookie political error, but a matter of pure personal survival strategy. A year later, the FBI continues to be in the line of fire, and its agents are being forced to choose between loyalty to the country and personal loyalty to Trump. Hesitation about loyalty to Trump is a decision that the president has shown will absolutely not be tolerated.
Trump is creating a divide within society and among the American political class that will now be extremely difficult to close. The enthusiasm with which half of Congress listened to his words on economic success and heightened nationalism contrasted with the tense silence of the other half. His friend-or-foe dialectics have no limits. And now the FBI is in his sights.
*Editor’s note: President Trump fired James Comey on May 9, 2017. Trump took office on January 20, 2017.