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FOIA Litigation Shows Negative Effects of Political Interference on Confidence in FBI Leadership

Documents released by the FBI show that confidence in senior leadership among rank-and-file members of the FBI has fallen in the past year, following President Trump’s decision to fire Director James Comey. Protect Democracy represents Benjamin Wittes and Scott Anderson of Lawfare in FOIA litigation seeking the results of the 2018 annual “climate survey” that the FBI  administers to its personnel to assess employees’ views about FBI work environment and leadership. As Wittes noted in April, the 2018 FBI climate survey is “well-situated to capture internal reactions to the tumultuous events of the past year.” When the FBI failed to produce documents based on Wittes and Anderson’s FOIA request, Protect Democracy filed a lawsuit on Wittes and Anderson’s behalf.

In response to that lawsuit, the FBI released the results of the 2018 climate survey. They demonstrate that FBI personnel’s faith in agency leadership has fallen since Comey’s firing, and underscore the negative effects of political interference in law enforcement. Wittes’ and Anderson’s analysis of them can be found here. The survey was also covered in the New York Times here.