WASHINGTON — FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his company Thursday amid blistering criticism from President Donald Trump. He additionally informed members of Congress the president has by no means requested him to pledge his loyalty to him.
Wray testified earlier than the Home Judiciary Committee as Democrats and Republicans clashed over the importance of Trump’s assaults on the company. In a storm of tweets final weekend, Trump referred to as the nation’s prime regulation enforcement company a biased establishment whose status is “in Tatters — worst in Historical past!” and urged Wray to “clear home.”
Democrats are pushing Wray to reply forcefully, whereas Republicans echo Trump in suggesting they fear about political bias in particular counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of potential Trump marketing campaign ties to Russia through the 2016 presidential election.
Wray advised members of the committee that Trump has not spoken to him about particular Mueller’s investigation.
Former FBI Director James Comey has stated that Trump requested him for his loyalty and spoke to him one-on-one a number of occasions. Wray, who changed Comey, advised the committee Trump has by no means gone outdoors the chain of command to speak with him immediately and has not requested for his loyalty.
Comey has stated that in one of many personal conversations sought by the president, Trump informed him he hoped he’d think about ending an FBI investigation into former nationwide safety adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded responsible Friday to mendacity to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat.
Throughout Wray’s testimony, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the committee, seized on revelations that an FBI agent was faraway from Mueller’s group due to anti-Trump texts.
“It’s completely unacceptable for FBI staff to allow their very own political predilections to infect any investigation,” Goodlatte stated. “Even the looks of impropriety will devastate the FBI’s popularity.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, prime Democrat on the Home Judiciary panel, predicted Trump’s assaults will solely develop louder as Mueller continues investigating. “Your duty is just not solely to defend the bureau however to push again towards the president when he’s so clearly flawed, each on the details and as a matter of precept,” Nadler advised Wray.
Wray’s tenure as the brand new FBI chief can be troublesome sufficient even with out the extreme scrutiny of the Russia investigation. Since he was sworn in on Aug. 2, the U.S. has skilled two of the deadliest shootings in its trendy historical past and an assault seen as terrorism in Manhattan.
Trump’s weekend tweets created a recent dilemma for Wray. Together with his bosses, Lawyer Common Jeff Periods and Periods’ deputy, Rod Rosenstein, staying publicly silent, it fell to Wray to defend the company. However FBI administrators historically have been low-key and stoic — with Wray’s predecessor, James Comey, a notable exception.
Trump’s firing of Comey whereas he led the Russia probe exhibits what can occur to a director who antagonizes the president.