(NewsNation) — Working in law enforcement, particularly at the FBI, comes with an implication that sometimes you may have to put your life in danger to serve the public.
This can be, and has been historically, harrowingly true for FBI agents who are tasked with bringing justice to America’s most dangerous criminals, from murderers, gang members, Mafia members, violent sexual criminals and terrorists.
Last week, however, the game changed for the FBI when a man armed with an AR-15 and a nail gun tried to break into the FBI’s Cincinnati office, apparently prompted by political rhetoric that targeted the FBI in wake of its search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
The FBI issued a warning to its agents to be vigilant following the Cincinnati incident.
Former FBI agent James Gagliano said the threats the FBI has been hearing since the Mar-a-Lago search are a new challenge for the bureau, differing from those leveled by drug lords and gang members.
“I think sometimes politicians in their overheated rhetoric, whichever side of the aisle it is, can lead to unhinged people doing unhinged things,” Gagliano said Thursday on NewsNation’s “On Balance With Leland Vittert.” “Recently at the Cincinnati field office, we had an unhinged man come there and try to do unhinged things.”
What makes the new round of threats coming the FBI’s way different from, say, a threat from mobsters, is the source of the rhetoric. In these new instances, politicians are driving the anger.
Gagliano, who said he was once a target of a gang threat during his 25-year FBI career, said when agents are going after gangs or the mob, “it comes with the territory” of threats traditionally faced by agents. To have the threats begin with politicians is a stark difference, however, which calls “unprecedented.”
“The difference here is that you’re dealing with it coming from a former president, dealing with comments about FBI agents possibly planting evidence at Mar-a-Lago. That kind of stuff is infuriating,” Gagliano said.