WASHINGTON — The FBI has announced a new leadership team that looks a lot like the old one.
President Donald Trump and Republicans have criticized the FBI as institutionally biased against their party and urged Director Christopher Wray to clean house. But the executives announced Friday are longtime FBI employees with vast experience in the bureau’s highest echelons.
They include David Bowdich as deputy director, a role he has held in an acting capacity since Trump foe Andrew McCabe stepped down and was later fired. Bowdich had been the No. 3 in the FBI, overseeing personnel, budget and administrative issues. He also led the bureau’s response to the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. He has already been tested in his new position, acknowledging to members of Congress that the FBI bungled a potentially life-saving tip about the gunman in the Valentine’s Day massacre at a Florida high school.
FBI appointments and promotions are common in any administration and rarely garner much publicity. But Trump’s attacks on the nation’s premier law enforcement agency have cast an intense spotlight on even routine machinations of the bureau.
Trump and some congressional Republicans have cited a number of grievances involving the FBI and Justice Department, including a lingering dissatisfaction with the decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes related to her use of a private email server. They’ve also lashed out over concerns about the pace with which officials are producing more than a million documents requested by the House Judiciary Committee related to the bureau’s Clinton probe, which is also the subject of a highly anticipated report by the department’s inspector general. The report already laid the groundwork for McCabe’s firing.
Republicans also see also signs of bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia, which Trump again referred to this week as a “witch hunt.” An FBI seizure of documents from Trump’s private lawyer only renewed his anger at Justice Department leadership.
Democrats say the attacks on the law enforcement agencies are an attempt to distract from and discredit Mueller’s investigation.
Trump has urged Wray, who took the helm of the bureau in August after Trump fired former Director James Comey, to clean house. Other bureau veterans whose promotions were announced include Paul Abbate as associate deputy director. He is a senior official at the FBI who had been responsible for the bureau’s criminal and cyber branch and was deeply involved for years in FBI efforts to fight terrorism. He also interviewed for the interim director position after Comey’s firing.
Nancy McNamara will head the FBI’s Washington field office, one of the agency’s largest and most powerful. She has had a number of roles within the bureau, including as a leader in its counterintelligence division.