FBI Director Wray defends his agency against Trump’s attacks
WASHINGTON — Countering strident attacks on his agency from the president who appointed him, FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday defended the tens of thousands of people who work with him and declared, “There is no finer institution.”
Wray, who has led the agency just four months, fended off politically charged questions from lawmakers of both parties during a routine oversight hearing that was overtaken by questions about Hillary Clinton’s emails and President Donald Trump’s campaign. Citing pending investigations, he repeatedly declined to answer questions about either.
But he did not hesitate to defend the nation’s premier law enforcement agency following a weekend of Twitter attacks by Trump, who called the FBI a biased institution whose reputation is “in Tatters — worst in History!” and urged Wray to “clean house.”
The outburst from the president followed a guilty plea from his former national security adviser for lying to the FBI and the revelation that an FBI agent had been removed from a special team investigating the Trump campaign because of text messages seen as potentially anti-Trump.
Wray, who was nominated as FBI director by Trump, faced Republican criticism over perceived political bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential election and in the handling a year earlier of an FBI investigation Clinton’s use of a private email server that ended without criminal charges.
When asked about Trump’s harsh tweets, Wray rebutted him directly, saying, “My experience has been that our reputation is quite good.”
Wray expressed pride in the agents, analysts and other personnel who he said were working to protect Americans. But he also conceded that agents do make mistakes and said there are processes in place to hold them accountable.
“There is no shortage of opinions out there, but what I can tell you is that the FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe,” Wray said.
The White House on Thursday tried to soften Trump’s message, denying any discrepancy between his comments and those of the FBI director.
FBI chief Christopher Wray fended off political questions from congressmen.