When George Piro learned that some of his former colleagues were spreading unfounded rumors about him, he was stunned.
Mr. Piro, 55, was a highly decorated agent in the F.B.I. During his 23-year career, he earned a national intelligence medal for the months he spent interrogating Saddam Hussein, supervised several high-profile shooting investigations and consistently earned reviews that were among the highest for agents who ran field offices.
Now, he stood accused of misconduct by a group of former agents who had been placed on leave and called themselves “the Suspendables.” In a letter sent this month to Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, the group surfaced persistent accusations against the bureau, saying it had discriminated against conservative-leaning agents. The group’s letter also falsely suggested that Mr. Piro, who once ran the F.B.I.’s office in Miami, had played a suspicious role in the bureau’s search this summer of Mar-a-Lago, former President Donald J. Trump’s private club and residence in Florida.
“These claims are absolutely false,” Mr. Piro said in an interview. “I dedicated my life to the country and the F.B.I. I am disappointed that former agents would spread lies about me.”
The attacks on Mr. Piro, and his angry rebuttal of them, are emblematic of a toxic dynamic that is increasingly central to Republican Party politics. Mr. Trump’s supporters — among them, Republicans poised to take over the House next month — have seized on the letter’s accusations and stepped up their assaults on the F.B.I., seeking to undermine the bureau just as it has assumed the lead in an array of investigations of Mr. Trump. [Continue reading…]