GOP pol gives FBI boss 3rd degree on agents
A Republican congressman took the extraordinary step of rattling off the names of top FBI officials during a public hearing Thursday — and demanded that the bureau’s director say whether any of them has made negative comments about President Trump.
Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, questioning FBI Director Christopher Wray during a House Judiciary Committee hearing, said Wray’s predecessor, James Comey, had “weakened the agency” because of his bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server.
Gohmert also raised concerns about the political leanings of FBI agent Peter Strzok, who was reassigned last summer after it was revealed he sent anti-Trump texts during the Clinton probe.
“Are you aware of any senior FBI executives” speaking against the Trump administration? Gohmert asked the new FBI chief.
“I’m not aware of any senior FBI executives who are allowing improper political considerations to affect their work with me right now,” Wray responded.
Then Gohmert began reading off names, including Carl Ghattas.
“My experience with Executive Assistant Director Ghattas has been very positive and he’s been a complete professional in all of my interactions with him,” Wray said.
Gohmert ticked off several more names — one of whom Wray said he didn’t know.
“No,” he told Gohmert after each name was read.
The list included Bryan Paarmann, the special agent in charge of counterterrorism in the New York field office, and Joshua Skule, the executive assistant director in the intelligence branch.
“It’s important that we have fairminded people — there’s never been a requirement that anybody not be able to vote or have political beliefs — just they not let them affect their outlook,” Gohmert said.
The committee members grilled Wray on whether the FBI used a double standard in how it treated the probes into Clinton’s e-mails and the possible collusion by Trump campaign associates with Russian officials.
Wray wouldn’t go into details of the Clinton investigation, saying the matter was under review by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
He also defended the agency from Trump’s comments over the weekend that Comey, whom the president fired last May, had left the bureau “in tatters.”
“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 told the committee.
But he conceded the FBI isn’t perfect.
“Do we make mistakes? You bet we make mistakes, just like anybody who’s human makes mistakes,” he said.
Trump attacked the FBI in a tweet on Saturday, a day after his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian officials.
Flynn, whom Trump fired last February, is cooperating in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
WRAY GUN: FBI Director Christopher Wray is grilled Thursday by Rep. Louie Gohmert (inset).