Former AG Holder urges Sessions to defend FBI

(Photo Source: US Dept of Labor / Flickr / MGN)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Former Attorney General Eric Holder says he is "deeply disturbed" that Attorney General Jeff Sessions hasn't spoken out to defend his employees at the Justice Department amid Republican criticism of the FBI.

Holder said Wednesday that Republicans who have criticized the agency are trying to delegitimize the department without any thought of the long-term consequences.

"It's time for the leaders of the Justice Department to speak on behalf of the dedicated career men and women who sacrifice a great deal, are patriots and who do the nation's business without any consideration of partisan politics," Holder said in a brief interview with The Associated Press after he attended the swearing-in of his friend, Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, on Capitol Hill.

"And it is something that is both disturbing and heartbreaking to see them being unfairly attacked, and to have nothing but silence coming from the 5th floor of the Justice Department."

Sessions' office is on the 5th floor of the main Justice Department building.

President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans have increasingly lashed out at the department after hundreds of text messages were revealed between an FBI counterintelligence agent and an FBI lawyer criticizing Trump.

Both had at one point been assigned to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference, which has resulted in charges against four of Trump's campaign advisers and increasingly appears focused on Trump's inner circle of associates and advisers.

Last month, Trump tweeted that the FBI is a biased agency whose reputation is "in Tatters — worst in History!"