Wray Defends FBI Against Trump's Twitter Attacks

Cheryl Sanders
December 10, 2017

FBI Director Christopher Wray was the man testifying before the committee on Thursday morning, but - at least for the Republican congressmen present - it was special counsel Robert Mueller in the spotlight.

True enough, but the question is whether such a perception is fair or the result of politically motivated exaggeration by the president and his supporters.

"We need to depose Peter Strzok", Jordan said, adding that the Judiciary Committee also needs to talk to Bruce Ohr, a senior Justice Department official who was demoted this week amid an ongoing investigation into his contacts with the opposition research firm responsible for dossier. That comes as no surprise - the attacks on the Federal Bureau of Investigation fit a clear pattern of misdirection and deflection by the Trump administration and its GOP allies on the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Wray has stayed mostly under the radar in his first months on the job and has subtly tried to distance himself from Comey, who was widely criticized for publicly announcing that Hillary Clinton shouldn't face criminal charges for her use of a private email server. Trump has made a similar accusation.

"After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History!" Their claim isn't supported by any evidence, however, just their deep, abiding belief that Clinton should not have been let off the hook.

Strzok's alleged conduct is now the subject of a probe by the Justice Department's inspector general. "Your responsibility is not only to defend the bureau but to push back against the president when he is so clearly wrong, both on the facts and as a matter of principle", Nadler told Wray.

Even if Strzok didn't violate any Justice Department regulation, expressing political opinions may have been indiscreet in light of the sensitivity of the investigation.

And Trump's firing of Comey while he led the Russian Federation probe shows what can happen to a director who antagonizes the president.

The director also noted that investigators have a harder time alerting potential hacking victims when attackers set their sights on targets that aren't under the government's direct control. Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein - whom Trump put in office - is perfectly capable of deciding whether there is any reason to revisit the Clinton case.

The agent, Peter Strzok, was removed in July from the investigation being run by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russian agents during last year's election.

Mr Trump denies that his team colluded with Moscow. The unmasking allegations have proved to be a non-scandal too. Trump said, referencing former FBI Director James Comey, whom he fired in May.

Another Republican, Matt Gaetz of Florida, pointed out that a senior prosecutor on Mr. Mueller's team, Andrew Weissmann, had praised Sally Q. Yates, the former deputy attorney general who defied Mr. Trump over his travel ban and was sacked.

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