Trump ratchets up feud with FBI

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE lashed out at top FBI officials on Saturday, his latest in a stream of criticism of the nation's premier law enforcement agency that has reportedly diminished morale among its agents and employees.

Trump swiped at multiple agency officials in a string of tweets Saturday afternoon, suggesting that FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe may have been compromised by political donations and ripping former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE as a leaker.

"How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFemale Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up McCabe's shocking claims prove the bloodless coup rolls on MORE investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?" Trump wrote on Twitter. 

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That was followed minutes later by a comment on reports that McCabe is looking to retire from the bureau in the coming months, as the No. 2 FBI official faces heated criticism from Republican lawmakers and the president himself.

Trump pointedly noted that McCabe may seek retirement in March, when he would receive his full pension benefits. Trump wrote that the deputy bureau chief was "racing the clock to retire with full benefits," adding, "90 days to go?!!!"

The Washington Post reported on McCabe's expected retirement earlier Saturday.

Capping off the flurry of tweets was a reference to reports that James Baker, the FBI's top lawyer, had been reassigned. Trump reacted to that development with a simple "Wow" on Twitter, though news of Baker's reassignment had surfaced days earlier.

While several GOP lawmakers have joined Trump in criticizing members of the FBI in recent weeks, other Republicans have made an effort to express their continued appreciation for the bureau and its work.

Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP advances rules change to speed up confirmation of Trump nominees GOP senator calls Omar's apology 'entirely appropriate' New battle lines in war over Trump’s judicial picks MORE (R-Okla.) on Saturday tweeted a message of praise for the agency and the intelligence community, after federal law enforcement agents reportedly thwarted a would-be terrorist attack in San Francisco.

"The thwarted ISIS-inspired attack on San Francisco's Pier 39 is yet another example of the amazing work that the @FBI & intel community do every day," Lankford tweeted.

Trump's comments Saturday were his latest criticism of the FBI, which he has long accused of mishandling an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as well as a probe into allegations that his campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

The tweets Saturday from Trump, who has repeatedly jabbed at McCabe by citing his wife's ties to prominent Democrats, came after the FBI deputy testified for hours behind closed doors on Capitol Hill this week, fielding questions from lawmakers on three congressional panels probing the Trump campaign's ties to Russia and the bureau's work.

In closed testimony before the House Intelligence Community, CNN reported, McCabe told lawmakers that Trump had once asked Comey for a pledge of loyalty early on in his presidency, potentially corroborating the former FBI director's account of a dinner at the White House in January.

Trump's continued criticism of the FBI has reportedly complicated the job of his hand-picked successor to Comey to lead the bureau, Christopher Wray.

A New York Times report published Friday said Trump's criticism of the agency and frequent mention of its previous leadership has complicated Wray's efforts to restore public trust in the FBI, which Trump characterized earlier this month as in "tatters."

The Times report also indicated dwindling morale among some of the agency's officials, who have become worried about being singled out for criticism by politicians. 

Some Republicans have called for McCabe's ouster for some time, accusing him of political bias, particularly over the fact that his wife received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to her 2015 Virginia state Senate campaign from a super PAC led by a Clinton ally.

Still, Benjamin Wittes, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and friend of Comey, cautioned in a tweet on Saturday that the deputy director's exit from the FBI may not be part of any kind of larger "purge" at the bureau.

"I have always assumed that McCabe would retire in March to let Wray build his own team," Wittes tweeted. "So I would not see this as part of any purge. The question about McCabe was always whether he would be forced out early."

A number of GOP lawmakers have questioned the FBI's objectivity and fairness in recent months, particularly regarding McCabe's work at the agency. After the deputy director sat for hours of interviews with congressional panels this week, several Republicans voiced dissatisfaction with his answers to their questions. 

Also fueling Republicans' criticism was the revelation that an FBI agent assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election had sent text messages critical of Trump during the presidential race. That agent, Peter Strzok, was removed from Mueller's investigation over the summer after he learned of the messages.