10:27 am May. 17, 2012
Senator Chuck Schumer prodded FBI Director Robert Mueller on his agency's rocky relationship with the NYPD, during a Judiciary Committee hearing on FBI oversight yesterday.
The turf battle between the two agencies has emerged into public view in recent months, with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly complaining last week that he wasn't briefed on the latest terrorist threats, a few months after an FBI field director in Newark publicly criticized the NYPD's out-of-state surveillance practices as straining their relationship with Muslims.
"I don't have a problem if the FBI thinks the NYPD is doing something that interferes with his operation in New Jersey," Schumer told Mueller yesterday. "I was sort of surprised that he made it public. Now what was that all about? That doesn't help the relationship."
Mueller would only say that he had addressed it, to which Schumer smiled and nodded.
"I'm glad you've addressed it and I hope that doesn't create any future problems because it did create bad blood for a period of time," Schumer said.
Mueller described the friction with the NYPD as predictable "bumps in the road," which led Schumer to ask if the bumps had increased of late.
"No no no no no no," said Mueller who characterized it as a "very good relationship."
But the tension between the two was evident when Schumer asked about the recent leaks of the foiled airplane bombing plot, and Kelly's complaints about not being briefed.
"Are there any problems with communication on that issue now?" Schumer asked.
"Shouldn't be," said Mueller, who then admitted to Schumer that he had yet to speak with Kelly about it.
"Just a suggestion for the continued good operation, give him a call on this, okay?" Schumer said. "He didn't ask me to ask you to do that, I am. Okay? Thanks."
"As I told Ray, he's always welcome--" Mueller started to say.
"Let's not get into who calls who, I'm asking you to do it," Schumer said.
"I'm happy to do it," Mueller said with a laugh.
"Thanks, appreciate that very much," Schumer replied.
Schumer has often floated Kelly as a future head of the FBI, and last month, in a joint appearance, called him "one of the very finest law enforcement people in America, not only today but in America's history."