-- This is an extraordinary moment, and these are extraordinary times. FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are both under incredible pressure following the release of a controversial memo by Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee.
Both men love the institutions that they work for, and for now it appears that both plan to put their heads down and try to keep working.
But the tension between the White House and the FBI seems to grow day to day and sometimes minute by minute.
Sources inside the FBI tell ABC News they are willing to acknowledge that agents and officials sometimes make mistakes. However, many believe that President Donald Trump and his allies are engaged in an all-out assault on the very integrity of their institution.
As a result we're seeing rare, if not unprecedented, moves by FBI officials to push back.
On Friday, the 13,000-member FBI Agents Association put out a statement basically accusing Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee of playing politics, saying that the FBI would not yield to “partisan politics.”
And after getting nowhere in pleading with the White House not to release the memo, Director Wray drew a line of independence by authorizing a statement expressing the FBI’s “grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.”
We don't know how the President will react to Director Wray's very frank pushback. Trump has publicly criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions, tweeted negative things about Rosenstein, and claimed that the FBI’s reputation is in tatters.
The president clearly believes there have been abuses and bias against him within the Justice Department and that the Russia investigation is unnecessary. His aggressive style is different from his predecessors, which his supporters say is his right.
Make no mistake, though, that Trump's constant pressure on the Justice Department is not the norm. And critics say it creates the perception that he's trying to control institutions that are supposed to have a level of independence to investigate national security matters without political interference.
Former President Bill Clinton's surrogates relentlessly attacked Independent Counsel Ken Starr, but what many law enforcement and intelligence officials are concerned about is this big difference: Now it is the president himself conducting the attacks, which creates a different kind of pressure.