HAMILTON, Ohio (FOX19) — In a letter to President Donald Trump, a sheriff in southwest Ohio is calling for changes at the top of the FBI and to shift some powers to the U.S. Marshals Service.
“It is time to consider reallocating some responsibilities to the Marshals thereby balancing the investigative power of the FBI and pulling back the curtain of the all-powerful Wizard,” Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones wrote Tuesday.
He’s also calling for FBI Director Christopher Wray to step down.
“The Sheriff does not want to be misinterpreted or give the impression that he thinks the men and women employed by the FBI are not hard-working, ethical, law enforcement personnel,” reads a news release from Jones’ office.
“The Sheriff feels the leaders of these good men and women have lost their way, and he is concerned with their ability to evaluate conflicting information in an unbiased manner and questions their basic competency.”
Jones copied his letter to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and two Republican congressmen from Ohio, Jim Jordan and Warren Davidson.
Last week, the FBI announced it’s taking steps to improve the accuracy and completeness of its wiretap applications for national security investigations and to provide better training for agents.
The changes were described in a 30-page filing with the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
They came one month after the chief judge of that court ordered the FBI to say how it would fix problems identified in a harshly critical Justice Department inspector general report on the bureau’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Here is the sheriff’s letter in its entirety:
“It is with great concern that over the past four years I have watched the uncovering of biasness, missteps and questionable behavior made by members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
"Be it intentionally or otherwise, numerous renditions of this ever-changing saga have surfaced, and most recently Director Wray admits that he “deeply regrets” FISA court errors in the Trump-Russia probe. Let me remind you, we are not talking about any old investigation into criminal wrongdoing. This is spying on American citizens, specifically, a campaign manager of a candidate for presidency of the United States of America.
"I believe it is time to rethink the role of the FBI. When speaking of Directors, they usually refer to their “law enforcement career”. However, historically, FBI Directors have worked for the United States Attorney’s Office prosecuting federal crimes, not investigating them. I do not think my local prosecutors refer to their vocation as a “law enforcement career”. Maybe we should consider someone who has spent a significant portion of his or her career on the investigative side of the bureau.
The FBI originated from a force of Special Agents created in 1908 by then Attorney General Charles Bonaparte. It is well documented that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was responsible for creating the dynasty that is now the FBI, and this is not the first time the FBI has been accused of meddling in presidential affairs. The offices of the United States Marshals was created by the first Congress in the Judicial Act of 1789. It is time to consider reallocating some responsibilities to the Marshals thereby balancing the investigative power of the FBI and pulling back the curtain of the all-powerful Wizard.
“Do not get me wrong, I think the vast majority of the men and women employed by the FBI are hard-working, ethical servants of law enforcement. However, as evidenced over the past four years, their leaders have lost their way.”
FOX19 NOW sought comment Tuesday from both the national office of the FBI in Washington and here in Cincinnati. Representatives for both declined.
Questions about FBI conduct have been made locally, too, not just nationally.
Late last year, a Cincinnati FBI agent was accused in federal court records of violating the constitutional rights of a Cincinnati police officer, setting off a chain of events that cost the officer his job.
A spokesman for the Cincinnati office of the FBI and a spokeswoman for the national FBI office in Washington both have said the FBI does not comment on pending litigation.
Jones is a cigar-smoking Trump supporter who is chairing the president’s re-election campaign in Butler County and warmed up the crowd in a rousing speech at a 2016 rally in West Chester just before the then-presidential candidate took the stage.
More recently, Jones tweeted pictures of himself wearing his trademark Stetson at a Christmas reception inside the White House.
This is not the first time Jones, a 43-year law enforcement veteran who has a saddle and framed pictures of John Wayne in his office, has drawn headlines for unorthodox moves.
He has written letters to Trump before, about school safety and immigration. He was the first Midwest sheriff, in fact, to raise the issue of illegal immigration more than 17 years ago.
Last year, Jones wrote a letter to former Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush calling for them to go on a bipartisan national tour in an attempt to unite the country and its political leaders for an end to a partial government shutdown.
He made national headlines in 2018 by offering free concealed handgun training classes to teachers and other school staff members after school shootings in Florida and Texas. The response was overwhelming.
Earlier this month, the sheriff offered the same free training to churches in the wake of a church shooting in Texas.