President Donald Trump on Friday told graduates of an FBI training program in Quantico, Virginia, he’s a “loyal champion” of police, days after he attacked the bureau and claimed its “reputation is in tatters.”
“I want you to know that with me as your president, America’s police will have a true friend and loyal champion in the White House, more loyal than anyone else can be,” Trump said. He attacked “anti-police sentiment” and told law enforcers: “The president of the United States has your back, 100 percent.”
Friday’s ceremony honored participants in the FBI National Academy, a 10-week program for police officers and law enforcement leaders. Trump used the speech to praise police officers and promote his anti-immigration and tough-on-crime platform, blasting “chain migration” policies and a diversity visa lottery, which he has said must be ended to prevent terrorism.
His administration was unable this week to provide any data to support its claim that immigrants who enter the country to join family ― “chain migration,” as they put it ― have anything to do with terrorism.
Trump, whose campaign has been under investigation by a special counsel probing Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, has frequently attacked the FBI and other national law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Trump claimed on Dec. 3 that the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters” and the “worst in history” under former Director James Comey, whom he fired in May amid the Russia probe. Comey later testified before the Senate that Trump asked him to end the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, raising questions of whether Trump obstructed justice.
Flynn on Dec. 1 pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in the Russia investigation.
As he left the White House for Quantico on Friday morning, Trump took another swing.
“When you look at what’s going on with the FBI and with the Justice Department, people are very, very angry,” the president told reporters, calling it “a very sad thing to watch.”
Trump has repeatedly assailed the FBI as the Russia probe intensifies, and has called the investigation “a witch hunt.”
Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed an FBI agent, Peter Strzok, from the investigation over the summer, after it was discovered that Strzok sent text messages critical of Trump. This also drew the ire of the president, who called the agent “tainted (no, very dishonest).”
The FBI’s Trump-appointed current director, Chris Wray, testified before Congress last week, defending the bureau’s “brave men and women.” During his confirmation over the summer, Wray said Mueller’s investigation is not “a witch hunt.”
The FBI National Academy is a prestigious training program that features classes in law, behavioral science, forensic science, terrorism prevention, leadership, communication, and health and fitness. The bureau hosts four sessions each year, with about 220 participants in each, at its campus in Virginia.