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In the 109 years of the FBI’s existence, it has repeatedly come under fire for abuses of power, privacy or civil rights. From Red Scares to recording and threatening to expose the private conduct of Martin Luther King Jr. to benefiting from bulk surveillance in the digital age, the FBI is accustomed to intense criticism.

What is so unusual about the current moment, say current and former law enforcement officials, is the source of the attacks.

The bureau is under fire not from those on the left but rather conservatives who have long been the agency’s biggest supporters, as well as the president who handpicked the FBI’s leader.

Republican critics charge that the birth of the investigation into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and agents of the Russian government was fatally infected by the political bias of senior FBI officials — and President Trump tweeted Saturday that the release of a memo on the issue “totally vindicates ‘Trump.’ ”

Bureau officials say the accusations in the document produced by House Republicans are inaccurate and — more damaging in the long term — corrode the agency’s ability to remain independent and do its job.

Inside the FBI: Anger, worry, work — and fears of lasting damage

FBI personnel are frustrated by the near constant attacks from conservatives, as their new boss tells them to stay calm.


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