- 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.