FBI director's angry message to employees: Shutdown is 'unfair'

PHOTO: FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks at a press conference about Chinese hacking at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, Dec. 20, 2018.PlayNicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images, FILE
WATCH FBI director: Shutdown 'unfair' to employees

In an angry video message sent to employees on Friday, FBI Director Chris Wray had a simple message: The government shutdown, now in Day 35, is "unfair" and he knows agents are hurting.

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“Making some people stay home when they don’t want to, and making others show up without pay–it’s mind-boggling, it’s short-sighted, and it’s unfair,” he said.

“It takes a lot to get me angry, but I’m about as angry as I’ve been in a long, long time. Sure, I get it. You’re public servants, and I know I can count on you to keep doing everything you can to help others, however you can," Wray said.

"But you’re also people with bills to pay. You’re also moms and dads. You’ve also got rent payments and mortgages, and utilities and car payments and gas and groceries to buy. And you can’t put those worries aside just because you serve the public,“ he said.

Wray avoided taking political sides but wanted to make clear that even as they keep serving their country, FBI employees still have to worry about paying the bills. "In this polarized environment, even seemingly straightforward statements can be hijacked by one side or the other," he said.

Top FBI officials had tried to "think outside the box" to find a way to pay employees, he said, but the effort fell short.

Wray told employees he and other bureau official weren't going to the news media to advocate for them -- but were doing that "at every level."

"I’m seeing that here at Headquarters, and I’m seeing it in the field. You're not only focused on the work. You’re focused on helping each other, in countless ways," he said.

"You’re running food pantries and donation efforts. You’re working flex schedules to take care of your families. You’re sharing job responsibilities with your colleagues. You’re gritting your teeth, getting the job done, and setting the standard for what putting the public first actually means in this environment."

In a statement, the FBI Agents Association president praised Wray's message.

“Director Wray clearly articulated the challenges confronting FBI Agents and all FBI employees. As we have said, the Director and the FBI leadership are doing all they can to fund FBI operations with increasingly limited resources, Tom O'Connor said. " The Director is correct that the FBI family comes together during a crisis, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and FBI leadership to protect the American people from criminal and terrorist threats,” O'Connor said.