Both men have worked to undermine the rule of law — the “bedrock of American democracy” ― with destructive, unfounded attacks on institutions that uphold the law, William Webster warned in an opinion article in The New York Times.
The rule of law “protects every American from the abuse of monarchs, despots and tyrants,” Webster noted.
He slammed Trump’s “dangerous and unwarranted” attacks on current FBI Director Christopher Wray, who must stand “independent of political influence of any kind” if the rule of law is to survive, Webster said.
The “aspersions cast upon” the FBI by Trump and Barr are “troubling in the extreme,” Webster wrote. “Calling FBI professionals ‘scum,’ as the president did, is a slur against people who risk their lives to keep us safe.”
Webster also upbraided Barr for disputing the Justice Department’s own independent inspector general’s report supporting the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. “In fact, the report conclusively found that the evidence to initiate the Russia investigation [by the FBI] was unassailable,” Webster noted. “There were more than 100 contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russian agents during the 2016 campaign.”
Webster, a registered Republican, served as FBI director under both Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. (Reagan then named him CIA director in 1988.) Both “so respected the bureau’s independence that they went out of their way not to interfere with or sway our activities,” Webster wrote. “I never once felt political pressure.”
He also reported to “four honorable attorneys general” in his nine years as FBI director. In apparent contrast to today, “each clearly understood the importance of the rule of law in our democracy,” he wrote.
Webster concluded: “This is not about politics. This is about the rule of law. Republicans and Democrats alike should defend it above all else.”
Read Webster’s entire op-ed piece in the Times here.