FBI Director Christopher Wray may have bailed on an oversight hearing early last week to go on vacation in a taxpayer-funded private jet, according to a new report in the New York Post.
Despite their increasing frustrations with the nation’s primary domestic intelligence agency’s increasingly politicized conduct in recent years, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee were rushed through one shortened round of questioning on Thursday because Wray said he needed to be “high-tailing it” out of the rare oversight hearing by 1:30 Eastern to catch a flight.
That flight, the New York Post’s Miranda Devine alleged on Sunday, was a 12-minute trip on the “luxury FBI Gulfstream,” originally designed for counterterrorism purposes, to Wray’s “favorite summer destination since his childhood” in upstate New York.
Flight records confirm that a jet belonging to the Department of Justice did fly to Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, where Wray hiked and fished as a child, his father served as Park Agency Commissioner for more than a decade, and where Wray’s parents have a 16-acre summer retreat less than an hour from the Saranac Lake regional airport, but the FBI did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s questions about whether Wray was on board.
If the FBI head did indeed cut an oversight hearing short to go to the scenic destination in upstate New York, a trip this particular DOJ jet has made three times in two months, then it’s likely Wray blew off the senate for personal reasons, not business as senators were led to believe.
Senators were under the impression that Wray’s quick exit from his third appearance under oath in front of them in two years was urgent and work-related. That’s because Wray said it was. In a hot mic moment a the end of the hearing, Ranking Member Chuck Grassley confronted Wray and said “I assume you’ve got other business.”
“Yeah,” Wray replied.
That was after Democrat Chairman Dick Durbin repeatedly reminded senators during the hearing that Wray had “a hard stop coming up soon,” something that seemed to surprise Grassley who wondered “If it’s your business trip you’ve got your own plane. Can’t it wait a while?”
“We just heard a half hour ago about you having to leave at 1:30,” Grassley said. “We were going to have seven minutes [each] for first round [questions and] three-minute second rounds. I’ve got seven people on my side of the aisle want their additional three minutes. Is there any reason we couldn’t accommodate them for 21 minutes?”
Wray blew off Grassley’s frustrations and claimed “I tried to make my break as fast I could to get right back out here.” Grassley wasn’t buying it and noted Wray took much longer than the five allotted minutes. But the Republican’s protests were ultimately shut down by Durbin, who was also reluctant to indulge the request to prolong Wray’s interrogation.
“I want to accommodate as many as I can and still be respectful of the fact that this is your third appearance in two years before this committee. And I appreciate that very much. We want to make sure we do this on a regular basis. I try to ask everyone to stick to your seven minutes. We’ve had some violations of that,” Durbin told Wray.
In addition to intentionally refusing to disclose the reasons for his premature exit from the hearing, Wray refused to answer senators’ 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. He also refused to condemn the Russia collusion hoax.
Updated Aug. 8 at 3:21 p.m.
Reached for comment, a spokeswoman for the FBI did not deny that Wray used the DOJ’s taxpayer-funded Gulfstream jet to take him on vacation to upstate New York last Thursday and implied that senators and staff had previously agreed not to infringe on his Thursday afternoon vacation plans.
“Hearing logistics are worked out with congressional committees in advance,” an FBI representative told The Federalist. “Director Wray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was consistent with the prearranged format and timing, and was also consistent with the length of the Committee’s 2021 oversight hearing.”