(LEX 18) — During his press conference announcing that the Department of Justice filed a motion seeking to unseal a search warrant executed on the residence of former President Donald Trump, Attorney General Merrick Garland saved his closing remarks for the rank-and-file of the DOJ.
"I will not stand by silently when their integrity is unfairly attacked," Garland said Thursday. "The men and women of the FBI and the Justice Department are dedicated, patriotic public servants."
Garland was referring to the intense scrutiny of the agency in the wake of the search of Mar-a-Lago.
"I think it was exactly what needed to be said," Clay Mason said over Zoom, from his home in central Kentucky.
Mason, a former FBI agent, retired from the agency in 2011. He has kept in touch with current FBI agents but has not spoken to them this week.
"I know that over time they're troubled," Mason said.
Mason said trust in the agency has eroded since former President Donald Trump took office in 2017 and began taking aim at the agency over perceived slights.
"The FBI has always maintained an independence and tried to be above the political fray," Mason said.
This week, Mason looked on from afar as the agency again became a target of rhetorical attacks on cable news and right-wing radio shows. He said the baseless allegations made by some Republican pundits and politicians that FBI agents "planted" evidence at Mar-a-Lago were "disturbing."
"For the FBI to be the point of the sword on this is personally troubling," Mason said.
Mason discussed the recent acrimony against the FBI just hours after the agency confirmed that a man fired a nail gun into an FBI field office in Cincinnati.
NBC News reports that the suspect, identified as Ricky Shiffer, posted in recent days about his desire to kill FBI agents [nbcnews.com] after the search at Trump's home.
Mason said he's worried the language deployed on television could embolden other people to resort to violence.
"It wouldn't surprise me if there was a more virulent attack on some type of federal law enforcement installation," Mason said.