Sally Yates, the former acting attorney general, has fired back at Donald Trump for his tweets about the FBI.
The US President began lashing out at his critics days after his former National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, plead guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
He attacked the FBI and its former director, James Comey, saying in a tweet: “After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.”
He also retweeted a post saying new the FBI Director, Chris Wray, “needs to clean house.”
Ms Yates, who was sacked by Mr Trump, tweeted: “The FBI is in ‘tatters’? No. The only thing in tatters is the President’s respect for the rule of law. The dedicated men and women of the FBI deserve better.”
Eric Holder, the former Attorney General, also tweeted in response: “Nope. Not letting this go. The FBI’s reputation is not in ‘tatters’.
“It’s composed of the same dedicated men and women who have always worked there and who do a great, apolitical job. You’ll find integrity and honesty at FBI headquarters and not at 1600 Penn Ave right now.”
Mr Trump seized on reports a veteran FBI counterintelligence agent was removed from special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s team last summer after the discovery of an exchange of text messages which were viewed as potentially anti-Trump.
The agent, Peter Strzok, had also worked on the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mr Mueller, said he removed Mr Strzok from the team “immediately upon learning of the allegations.”
The removal almost certainly reflected a desire to insulate the investigators from any claims of political bias or favouritism.
On Saturday, Mr Trump tweeted to say he “had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI. He has pled guilty to those lies. It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!”
The tweet suggested the President was aware Mr Flynn had lied to the FBI when the White House dismissed him on 13 February
Mr Comey has said the following day, Mr Trump brought up the investigation into Mr Flynn in private at the White House and told him he hoped he could “let this go.”
With questions raised by the tweet, associates of Mr Trump tried to put distance between the President himself and the tweet.
Mr Trump’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, told ABC News he drafted the tweet and gave it to the President’s social media director, Dan Scavino.