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Former FBI agents express embarrassment, disapproval in response to GOP memo release

KATU file image

A retired FBI agent in Oregon told KATU information contained in a previously classified Republican congressional memo embarrasses him.

Another former agent, meanwhile, had a different take.

The FBI itself said it has "grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy."

President Donald Trump declassified the formerly top-secret memo Friday, claiming vindication and trying to derail the investigation into his 2016 campaign's alleged ties with Russia. The president and other Republicans have suggested the memo proves the investigation is flawed, relying on anti-Trump research funded by Democrats.

"I'm tremendously troubled by it," said Ronnie Frigulti, a former FBI agent living in Sisters. "I'm glad I'm retired, I'm no longer a part of it 'cause quite frankly it's embarrassing."

Frigulti served with the bureau for 25 years, retiring in 1997. He believes investigators should stay out of politics.

"Politically we just weren't supposed to align ourselves with either side," Frigulti said. "Mr. (J. Edgar) Hoover took over the organization in the early 1900s when it was corrupt and I think maybe it's probably going back to that side."

Frigulti said information about the investigation into the president's alleged ties to Russia should be released.

"I think there's a word called transparency," Frigulti said, "and I don't think our government's very transparent."

But Greg Vecchi, another former FBI agent who retired in 2014, disagrees.

"The FBI can never or should never respond to any sort of ongoing inquiry or investigation under any circumstance," Vecchi explained. “No information should be shared with anyone until after the investigation is done with.”

Vecchi, who's also an assistant professor of criminal justice at Missouri Western State University, said the president's declassification puts the FBI in a tough spot.

“You have clearly one side that declassifies things that make them look good and then the other side comes back and says, ‘Hey, this doesn’t make sense,’ but they can’t get the information to validate what they’re saying because it’s classified," Vecchi said.

He suspects only a small fraction of the information from the investigation is in the memo.

"The rest of the investigation and the rest of the facts and the rest of everything else can't be released because it is still classified," Vecchi said. "They're trying to make a judgment on the FBI before they're done."

Vecchi said there is evidence that points to some politicized elements of the FBI that simply didn’t like Trump but doesn't know if it resulted in criminal wrongdoing.

Both men said their thoughts are based on what they've learned from media reports and admit there's likely a lot they don't know.


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