FBI Director Christopher Wray, appointed by Donald Trump in June after he suddenly fired James Comey, provided a forceful rebuttal the president’s recent tweet charging that the FBI is “in tatters.”
Wray never mentioned the president by name, but was responding to questions from both Republican and Democratic Congressman at a hearing about the president’s tweet.
“There is no shortage of opinions out there,” said Wray at today’s House Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington. “What I can tell you is the FBI I see is tens of thousands of agents, analysts and staff working their tails off to keep America safe from the next terror attack.”
“The FBI I see,” he continues, “is brave men and women working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm.”
Trump had tweeted several times about the reassignment of FBI agent Peter Strzok from the Special Agent’s Russia investigation after it was learned that he tweeted to another FBI agent a message that suggested he was a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Strzok had also worked on the investigation of Secretary Clinton by the FBI and has been credited with softening language in the final report about her use of a private email server from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”
After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters – worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017
Trump and his supporters have jumped on the reassignment of Strzok to a job in human resources as proof that the Clinton email investigation was tainted and that the Russia probe is nothing but a political “witch hunt” against the president.”
FBI Director Chris Wray sent a motivational email to the FBI's 35,000 employees following Trump's Twitter tirade: "It is truly an honor to represent you" https://t.co/WGUYXbbhxl
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) December 5, 2017
Wray would not comment on the investigations because the Strzok matters are currently being investigated by the FBI’s Inspector General, with a report on his findings expected sometime in early 2018.
Wray did point out that Strzok’s reassignment is different than punishing him for wrongdoing.
Wray, a registered Republican and former Associate Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush, made clear that he believes decisions by the FBI “need to be made on nothing other than facts and the law…not any political considerations on either side of the aisle.”
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said Trump’s “outbursts” are “cheapening and coarsening” the dialogue surrounding the issues facing the Justice Department and the FBI.
.@RepJerryNadler to Chris Wray: "When [Trump] tells you that you need to clean house, that your agents are quote phony & dishonest, that … the reputation of the bureau is in tatters & quote, the worst in history, you should do more than send a private email to your employees."
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) December 7, 2017
He called on Wray to speak out against attacks on the FBI’s reputation.
“You job requires you to have the courage to stand up to the president,” said Nadler, who represents a New York City-area district. “There are real consequences for allowing the president to continue unchecked in this manner.”
Wray, considering he is a Trump appointee, at least sounded sincere in his plan for the FBI to continue to take the high road and do its job.
“The agents of the FBI are big boys and girls,” said Wray. “We understand we will take criticism from all corners and we are accustomed to that. My experience has been that our reputation is quite good.”
At least in this hearing Wray seemed ready to stand up for the FBI in the face of severe political attacks form those who want to use any excuse to denigrate the work of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and try to derail the investigation into the Trump campaign’s involvement int he Russian interference with the 2016 election, as a way to tip the result to Trump.
Trump’s attacks on the FBI are very unusual for a president, but then few presidents have used their office for such personal, underhanded and borderline illegal purposes as this president.
So far Wray seems to be doing his job and letting Mueller do his job, which is what the American people expect and deserve.
I join @EdKrassen in calling on Trump’s FBI Director Chris Wray to condemn Trump’s disgusting and fake put down of his own FBI. A sick and typically Trumpian form of distraction. https://t.co/9rd7e6b1eR
— Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) December 3, 2017
Clearly, Trump and his allies would like to pervert justice to hider their own crimes and improper actions, but so far the wheels of justice appear to still be grinding forward.