FBI Director Christopher Wray refused to answer legislators’ questions about his agency’s history of corruption and cover-ups and instead doubled down on defending the FBI’s actions against U.S. citizens during a Senate Judiciary hearing on Thursday.
Senators on both sides of the aisle explained their frustrations with the FBI’s lack of transparency and response to their various letters inquiring about threats around the country.
“There is the perception that there are two tiers of justice: one for people that are favored and one for ordinary Americans,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn noted during her interrogation.
Dodging Questions About Politicized Investigations
Instead of addressing concerns about deceit, Wray confirmed Republicans’ suspicions that the FBI does engage in politicized investigations such as evaluating so-called threats against school board members at the urging of the Department of Justice following its infamous letter from the National School Boards Association.
Ranking member Chuck Grassley was just one of the many Republicans who grilled Wray about the FBI’s increasing partisanship and the effect that a weaponized federal agency has on Americans’ trust in its institutions.
“Director Wray, simply put, the FBI’s credibility is on the line, as are principles that helped found and sustain our great nation,” Grassley said in his opening statement.
Grassley sent a letter to Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland last month outlining how both the Department of Justice and the nation’s primary domestic intelligence agency are “institutionally corrupted to their very core to the point in which the United States Congress and the American people will have no confidence in the equal application of the law.”
That was after multiple whistleblowers alleged that high-ranking bureau officials manipulated evidence related to an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and his “pay-to-play scandal of influence-peddling.” Evidence also suggests that “FBI Headquarters either improperly withheld information or presented inaccurate information to the U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh and possibly also Delaware” about Hunter.
When Grassley asked Wray on Thursday why concerns that “the FBI has become too politicized in its decision making” were allegedly “removed from this year’s final report” and what Wray plans to do to address those concerns, the director dodged the question.
“I think you’ve answered the process. But you haven’t answered this specific thing about why that information was taken out of the report,” Grassley noted after Wray went on a tangent about visiting various field offices.
“Yeah, I don’t, I’m not familiar with that. … Let me see if there’s something we can share with you on that,” Wray said.
Refused to Explain Gun Records Grab and Refugee Vetting Failures
Deflection and dodging quickly became the name of Wray’s game. Wray wouldn’t answer Republican Sen. Josh Hawley’s questions about why the FBI is demanding the personal information of concealed carry permit owners despite state laws prohibiting local law enforcement from turning that over. Nor would he answer Hawley’s questions about why the federal government reportedly did not vet hundreds of Afghan evacuees who were on various terrorist watch lists.
Sidestepped Border Security Concerns
One of Wray’s talking points during the hearing was the spike in violent crime across the county. When Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asked him how that violence is related to the crime rings operating thanks to the compromised U.S.-Mexico border, Wray danced around the issue.
“Director Wray, I’ve always thought of you as a straight shooter but you won’t answer that question?” Cornyn asked.
It was then that Wray conceded that the “border presents significant security issues” that feed the violence he claims his agency is struggling to combat.
“There’s a wide array of criminal threats that we encounter down at the border. You mentioned a little bit in some of your questions, the transnational criminal organizations that use diverse and complex methods to traffick drugs, that then cascades over into prison and street gangs who distribute it,” Wray admitted.
Vague Answers about Pro-Abortion Terrorism
When Sen. Mike Lee asked what actions the FBI took against pro-abortion activists’ violent attacks against churches, pro-life organizations, and pregnancy centers following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision, Wray promised to “go after that conduct aggressively” but could not provide an exact number of times the FBI intervened.
Instead, he rattled off a few investigations that he knew about in states such as Iowa and Tennessee.
As Sen. Tom Cotton pointed out, Wray also seemed to have no issue with how his agency failed to address widespread protests and harassment against Supreme Court justices following the Dobbs leak or the final decision.
To Wray’s credit, he did state that the United States’ most significant foe “would be the People’s Republic of China and specifically the Chinese Communist Party.”
But, as Republican Sen. Ben Sasse explained, the FBI’s official priorities include the vague “domestic terrorism” umbrella but not explicit investigations into the CCP’s actions within the U.S.
FBI’s Ridiculous Definitions of ‘Extremism’
Sen. Ted Cruz took his criticism of the FBI’s focus on “extremism” and so-called extremist symbols one step further by placing his boot, which is emblazoned with the “come and take it” flag, on the table in front of him.
“What are y’all doing? This makes no sense. Do you agree with this FBI guidance that the Betsy Ross flag and the Gadsden flag and the Gonzales battle flag are signs of militia violent extremism?” Cruz asked.
When Wray did get around to answering questions, his answers did not appear to give senators confidence that his agency is doing its job well.
Failure to Hold Agents In Suspected Whitmer Kidnapping Entrapment Accountable
Wray not only hinted that the agents involved in the Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping suspected entrapment scheme were not punished but also confirmed that the supervisory agent over the Detroit field office where the operation was based was later promoted to the Washington D.C. bureau.
Contradicting the Jan. 6 Narrative
Speaking about the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, one of the only things Wray confidently told Democrat Chairman Dick Durbin during the hearing was that the FBI in the days leading up to Jan. 6 did not have “any specific credible intelligence that pointed to thousands of people breaching the Capitol.”
That strongly contradicts the Jan. 6 Committee’s accusation that former President Donald Trump and other Republicans premeditated and coordinated the riot.
Refusal to Condemn the Russia Collusion Hoax
In addition, Wray refused to condemn the false allegations that President Donald Trump colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election, an accusation that fueled the FBI’s unlawful spying on members of the Republican’s presidential campaign, as a hoax.
“Do you agree this allegation of secret collusion between President Trump and Russia was a hoax, yes or no?” Blackburn asked.
“I don’t think that’s the terminology I would use,” Wray said. “But I think there’s been a lot written on this subject, uh, both in the special counsel’s report, the inspector general’s report.”
Wray also disclosed some FBI bureaucrats involved in the scandal are still being evaluated by the agency’s disciplinary arm, the Office of Professional Responsibility. That was shortly before he refused to tell Blackburn whether the FBI believes the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation.
As Grassley noted in his line of questioning, “the FBI greenlit a full investigation into Trump based on liberal news articles and information derived from liberal nonprofits” but “closed investigative activity and sources that provided verified or verifiable reporting on Hunter Biden.
“Director Wray, you will have to explain to the committee – and to the country – how you’ll manage this mess and how you’ll clean house,” Grassley explained.