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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Bad Morale at EPA and FBI

Lisa Friedman, Marina Affo and Derek Kravitz at NYT:
More than 700 people have left the Environmental Protection Agency since President Trump took office, a wave of departures that puts the administration nearly a quarter of the way toward its goal of shrinking the agency to levels last seen during the Reagan administration.

Of the employees who have quit, retired or taken a buyout package since the beginning of the year, more than 200 are scientists. An additional 96 are environmental protection specialists, a broad category that includes scientists as well as others experienced in investigating and analyzing pollution levels. Nine department directors have departed the agency as well as dozens of attorneys and program managers. Most of the employees who have left are not being replaced.

The departures reflect poor morale and a sense of grievance at the agency, which has been criticized by President Trump and top Republicans in Congress as bloated and guilty of regulatory overreach. That unease is likely to deepen following revelations that Republican campaign operatives were using the Freedom of Information Act to request copies of emails from E.P.A. officials suspected of opposing Mr. Trump and his agenda.
At NYT, Adlam Goldman and Maggie Haberman report on the FBI:
Mr. Trump’s verbal assaults have put Mr. Wray and his leadership team in a difficult position. Mr. Wray is trying to move past his predecessor’s era and make sure there is not a whiff of politics at the F.B.I. He has promised the F.B.I.’s work would be based on the “facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice — period.”

Yet Mr. Trump and his allies in Congress are making that task much harder.

Current and former F.B.I. officials say Mr. Trump’s criticisms, and those of normally supportive Republican members of Congress, have damaged morale in some quarters of the bureau. Senior agents have expressed fear that if their names appear in the news media, they will be singled out for attack by politicians. 

During a congressional hearing this month, Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican of Texas, asked Mr. Wray about the political views of some of his top agents. F.B.I. officials said they were stunned that Mr. Gohmert singled out a seemingly random group of agents. Several of those mentioned had nothing to do with either the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, or the F.B.I.’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election.