WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Friday praised state and local police in a speech at an FBI National Academy graduation ceremony shortly after he stepped up his attacks on the FBI and Justice Department as he left the White House.
Addressing about 200 law enforcement officials who participated in the FBI’s 11-week program, Trump praised their hard work and devotion to their jobs, and told them, “The president of the United States has your back 100 percent.”
But before boarding Marine One to fly to the FBI’s training center in Quantico, Virginia, to deliver the address, Trump sharply criticized the nation’s top federal law-enforcement agency and legal arm days after the disclosure of some FBI agents’ texts disparaging him.
“When you look at what has gone on with the FBI and the Justice Department, people are very, very angry,” Trump told reporters seeing him off on the South Lawn of the White House.
The texts were written by two FBI agents assigned to the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in last year’s election, and the White House has cited those messages to charge the process is biased.
“It’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI. But we’re going to rebuild the FBI,” said Trump, who recently said the FBI is in “tatters.” He added, “But it is very sad when you look at those documents. And how they’ve done that is really, really disgraceful.”
Asked whether the Mueller investigation is biased, Trump said, “You’ll have to make that determination.”
But he added, “Let’s put it this way: There is absolutely no collusion. That has been proven. When you look at the committees, whether it’s the Senate or the House, everybody — my worst enemies, they walk out, they say, ‘There is no collusion but we’ll continue to look.’ They’re spending millions and millions of dollars.”
Trump again pointed the finger instead at his former Democratic rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, and the investigation of her private email server under FBI Director James Comey, fired by Trump in May.
“When you look at the Hillary Clinton investigation, it was — I’ve been saying for a long time — that was a rigged system, folks,” Trump said. “It’s very, very sad. Very, very sad.”
Trump’s comments came after White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told Fox News Channel Friday morning that edits to Comey’s statement on Clinton’s private email server and text messages from a top agent critical of Trump are “deeply troubling.”
“There is extreme bias against this president with high-up members of the team there at the FBI who were investigating Hillary Clinton at the time,” Gidley charged.
Edits to the Comey draft appeared to soften the gravity of the bureau’s finding in its 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state.
Gidley said the disclosure of politically charged text messages sent by one of the agents on the Clinton case, Peter Strzok, were “eye-opening.” Strzok was reassigned after the texts became public.
Asked about pardoning his former campaign ally and national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, Trump sidestepped the questions.
“I don’t want to talk about pardons for Michael Flynn yet,” he said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Trump also talked about his Thursday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying Putin said some nice things about what Trump has been doing for the United States, but also said some negative things.
But Trump said the point of the call was to talk about reining in North Korea and its nuclear weapon program. “We’d like to have Russia’s help,” Trump said.
Trump also said he had seen the final tax bill. “I think it’s going to do very, very well,” he said. “I think that we are going to be in a position to pass something as early as next week, which will be monumental.”