FBI Director Chris Wray testifies before Congress for the first time since Trump attacks


FILE PHOTO: Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Wray
testifies before Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing
on Capitol Hill in Washington

Thomson
Reuters


  • FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the
    House Judiciary Committee on Thursday in his first
    congressional hearing since being sworn in as the eighth
    director of the FBI on August 2.
  • Wray’s testimony came days after President Donald
    Trump tweeted that the former director James Comey left the
    FBI’s reputation “in tatters,” prompting Wray to send out a
    morale-boosting memo to the bureau’s 35,000
    employees.

  • The committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Bob
    Goodlatte, echoed Trump’s remark that Comey had damaged the
    FBI’s reputation.

FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the House
Judiciary Committee on Thursday in his first congressional
hearing since he was confirmed to replace former FBI Director
James Comey in August.

Wray’s testimony came days after President Donald Trump
tweeted
that Comey left the FBI’s reputation “in tatters,”
prompting Wray to send out a morale-boosting memo to the bureau’s
35,000 employees.

“I am inspired by example after example of professionalism
and dedication to justice demonstrated around the bureau,” Wray
wrote. “It is truly an honor to represent you.” 

Breaking with longstanding precedent, Trump did not attend
Wray’s swearing-in ceremony in September. 

The committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Bob Goodlatte,
echoed Trump’s remark that Comey had
damaged the FBI’s reputation
.

“You have a unique opportunity to repair the damage done by Comey
to the FBI,” Goodlatte said in an opening statement. He asserted
that the bureau’s decision not to recommend charges against
former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her use of a
private email server showed that “our nation’s system of justice
applies differently to the rich, powerful, and well-connected
than to anyone else.”

He expressed dismay that he the Justice Department has not yet
appointed “a second special counsel to review the voluminous
unresolved inconsistencies and perceived improprieties” that
arose during the Clinton email investigation. 

Goodlatte also took a shot at special counsel Robert Mueller, who
is investigating Russia’s election interference.

“We do not know the magnitude of insider bias on Mr.
Mueller’s team,” he said.

Trump’s rocky relationship with the FBI reached a tipping
point when he fired Comey in May over “the Russia thing,”
according to remarks he made in an interview days later with
NBC’s Lester Holt. Trump had asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions
and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to outline reasons why
Comey was not fit to lead the bureau, which he then used as
justification to fire him.

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, the committee’s ranking
member, predicted that Trump’s attacks on the FBI will grow
louder as Mueller “closes in” on the White House. Nadler implored
Wray to push back on those attacks.

If Trump targets the bureau again, Nadler said, “Your job
is to stand up to the president of the United States.”

“Your job requires you to have the courage in these
circumstances to stand up to the president. … There are real
consequences in allowing the president to continue his attacks on
the FBI,” he said.

Wray started by saying that it is “the honor of a lifetime”
to represent the men and women of the FBI.

“There is no finer institution than the FBI, and no finer
people than the people who work there and represent its beating
heart,” Wray said. “I am both humbled and inspired to be back in
public service working alongside them.”

This story is developing.

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