The revelation that the FBI botched a potentially life-saving tip on the Florida school shooting suspect is a devastating blow to America’s top law enforcement agency at a time when it is already under extraordinary political pressure.
Even before the startling disclosure that the FBI failed to investigate a warning that the suspect, Nikolas Cruz, could be plotting an attack, the bureau was facing unprecedented criticism from President Donald Trump and other Republicans, who have accused it of partisan bias.
The agency and its supporters had been able to dismiss past criticism as just politics, but this time it had no option but to admit it made a disastrous mistake.
The FBI’s acknowledgment that it mishandled the tip prompted a sharp rebuke from its boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and a call from Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a Trump ally, for FBI Director Christopher Wray to resign.
Wray, on the job for just six months, had already been in a precarious position defending the bureau from relentless attacks by Trump and other Republicans. They are still dissatisfied with its decision not to charge Hillary Clinton with crimes related to her use of a private email server, and they see signs of bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.
As evidence, they’ve cited the former deputy director’s connection to Clinton allies, and they’ve publicized anti-Trump text messages exchanged between an FBI agent and a bureau lawyer. Democrats have said the accusations are aimed at damaging Mueller’s investigation and protecting Trump.