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FBI confidence in leaders sank after Comey was fired: report

FBI confidence in leaders sank after Comey was fired: report
© Greg Nash

Confidence in the FBI's leadership has plummeted among the agency's rank-and-file agents in the year following former Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFormer FBI lawyer speaks with House lawmakers on Rosenstein, 2016 Emmet Flood steps in as White House counsel following McGahn departure McGahn departs as White House counsel MORE's firing, according to an internal survey of employees. 

Overall, morale at the FBI remains high, data obtained by the blog Lawfare through a Freedom of Information Act request show. Responses generally reflected that agents remained proud to work at the bureau and that they look forward to going to their jobs. 

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While morale scores remained relatively unchanged from past years, the survey reflects dwindling confidence in the agency's senior leadership at a time when the FBI faces repeated attacks on its credibility from President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Guardian slams Trump over comments about assault on reporter Five takeaways from the first North Dakota Senate debate Watchdog org: Tillerson used million in taxpayer funds to fly throughout US MORE and his allies.

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, citing a sharp drop in confidence in the FBI chief among the bureau's agents. The survey suggests, however, that agents' attitudes do not necessary jibe with the president's claims.

After Comey's firing, Trump tapped Christopher Wray to replace him. And while Wray has periodically defended the FBI in congressional testimonies, he has taken a far less vocal approach to his role than his predecessor. 

The so-called climate survey is conducted annually and asks employees dozens of questions about their experience at the FBI. Results are scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with higher numbers representing better results. According to Lawfare, the FBI sees scores of 3.81 or higher as markers of success. 

Wray's vision and leadership scored a 3.58 among FBI field agents, according to a separate analysis by The New York Times. According to Lawfare, scores between 3 and 3.8 represent "positive feedback" with room for improvement.

The latest FBI climate survey was conducted in March and April, according to Lawfare, capping off a tumultuous year at the FBI that saw not only the firing of Comey, but the ouster of the FBI's Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeFBI investigated media leak of McCabe comment about Flynn and Trump Clinton's security clearance withdrawn at her request Rod Rosenstein must recuse himself MORE

Trump has also gone after Peter Strzok, the former chief of the FBI's counterespionage section, and Lisa Page, a former lawyer for the bureau, who exchanged text messages critical of the real estate mogul during the 2016 presidential election.