FBI Director Christopher Wray is set to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. With the cluster bomb of scandals that has rocked the FBI for the last seven years, there is just too much to cover. So congressional Republicans — and any Democrats who still care about their oversight duty — should focus on these questions, which will both educate Americans on the depth of the problems at the bureau and advance the investigation into the weaponization of the FBI. Two main areas of inquiry will fulfill these dual goals.
The Durham Report
Wednesday will be the first time since the Durham report dropped in May that Wray will appear before Congress, so some questions should focus on the special counsel’s findings. The most important information the House Judiciary Committee can learn from questioning the FBI director is whether he agrees with the broad conclusions Special Counsel Durham reached. If not, that alone merits Wray’s removal because you can’t possibly fix a problem you don’t think exists.
The House committee can achieve this goal by walking Wray through a quick litany of the fundamental scandals the special counsel uncovered and asking his view on the findings.
“Do you agree with the special counsel’s conclusion that there was an insufficient predicate to open Crossfire Hurricane as a full investigation?”
“Do you agree with the special counsel’s conclusion that the FBI handled allegations of ‘foreign election influence activities associated with entities related to Clinton,’ differently than it did the allegations related to Trump?”
“Do you agree with the special counsel’s conclusion that none of the substantive claims in the Steele dossier about Donald Trump and his campaign were verified?”
“Do you agree the FBI never should have used Igor Danchenko as a confidential human source?”
“Do you agree the FBI violated Carter Page’s civil rights?”
“Do you agree the FBI committed fraud on the FISA court?”
“Do you agree the FBI’s handling of Crossfire Hurricane demonstrated a political bias?”
“And do you agree with Durham’s conclusion that additional rules and regulations to be learned in yet more training sessions would likely prove to be a fruitless exercise if the FBI’s guiding principles of ‘Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity’ are not engrained in the hearts and minds of those sworn to meet the FBI’s mission of ‘Protect[ing] the American People and Uphold[ing] the Constitution of the United States?’”
If Wray is too blind to see these truths — or is not man enough to unequivocally acknowledge them — he has no business running the FBI. Period.
The Biden Investigation
While Wray’s view on the Durham report will be revealing of his character, questions about the investigation into the Biden family will indicate the FBI director’s involvement in, or knowledge of, potential obstruction of the criminal probes. Even if Wray pleads ignorance in response to the questions posed, that will establish a secondary point of importance: The FBI director doesn’t care enough about the politicization of the bureau to dirty his hands in an effort to reform the organization.
The primary questions Wray should face concern FBI headquarters’ involvement in the various investigations of the Biden family. Here, recall there were multiple investigations related to Biden family members running out of different field offices.
In Pittsburgh, the U.S. attorney’s office served as a clearing house to ensure information about the Bidens submitted to law enforcement in the run-up to the 2020 election did not include Russian disinformation. The Pittsburgh FBI office assisted in that process.
But was FBI headquarters also involved? If so, why? Who made that decision? What was FBI headquarters’ role, and did headquarters limit the scope of any investigative activities out of the Pittsburgh office?
The U.S. attorney’s office in Pittsburgh also “oversaw the criminal investigation into the bankrupt health-care business Americore — a business Jim Biden allegedly siphoned hundreds of thousands of dollars from to finance repairs for his beach house.” Was FBI headquarters involved in any way in that investigation during the Trump administration? Did it keep apprised of the investigative steps? Did it limit the scope of the investigation?
And what about after Biden’s election, when the president named Cindy Chung to lead Pittsburgh’s U.S. attorney’s office? Was FBI headquarters involved in the investigation then?
What about after Biden nominated Chung to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and Biden replaced Chung with Eric Olshan? Was FBI Headquarters involved in the investigation then?
Or maybe a better question, albeit one for Attorney General Merrick Garland: Why were Biden-appointed U.S. attorneys investigating a crime that connected to the president’s brother?
While the Pittsburgh office handled the investigation into Americore, material incriminating Hunter or Joe Biden went to the Delaware U.S. attorney’s office and the related FBI field office that is based out of Baltimore, Maryland. Nonetheless, according to whistleblowers, FBI headquarters had its hand in the many protect-Biden decisions reached by the Delaware U.S. attorney’s office, making it imperative to drill Wray on HQ’s involvement. FBI analyst Brian Auten’s alleged opening of a separate assessment out of headquarters to inaccurately frame disparaging information about Hunter Biden’s finances as disinformation likewise requires the House to question the FBI director on headquarters’ involvement.
This line of questioning should begin broadly: “Was FBI headquarters involved, in any way, with the Pittsburgh investigation into Americore?”
A “yes,” will require several follow-ups, beginning with the who and why, and then quizzing Wray on whether any decisions were made to limit the investigation or its connection to Jim Biden.
If Wray responds with an “I don’t know,” that too should be probed. When is it appropriate for FBI headquarters to involve itself in a field office investigation? Who makes that decision? When would the director be briefed?
For each of the investigations, the House committee should walk Wray through the same sequence, inquiring whether FBI headquarters was involved, and asking who from the office communicated with the local field offices. When? Why? And what limits were placed on any investigations?
The Delaware investigation and Auten’s involvement will demand particular attention because many of the details revealed by the whistleblowers require an answer from Wray concerning his knowledge of the allegations.
What was the FBI’s role in shutting down specific avenues of investigation? Was it the Baltimore field office, FBI headquarters, or both involved in the decision-making? Why was FBI headquarters involved in the Hunter Biden case in the first instance? How often did the Baltimore field office coordinate with HQ? Did FBI headquarters know of the FD-1023? Did anyone from FBI headquarters investigate the FD-1023? Did FBI headquarters have a role in excluding the IRS criminal investigators from meetings?
If Wray does not know the answers to these questions, who would and who would ordinarily make those decisions? And has Wray done anything to investigate the FBI’s conduct since the whistleblowers came forward with their allegations?
Relatedly, the House committee should put Wray on the record for what he, as the FBI director, believes is appropriate. Would it be appropriate for FBI headquarters to insist the Pittsburgh and Baltimore field offices clear their investigative steps with D.C.? Should FBI HQ be allowed to direct or limit the field offices’ investigations? Under what circumstances?
Then, the Judiciary Committee should walk Wray through the whistleblowers’ many allegations and ask, generally speaking, whether the DOJ or FBI acted inappropriately.
It should go without saying that Wray will attempt to sidestep as many questions as possible, but the House Judiciary Committee still needs to make the record of what Wray knew and when he knew it. With careful questioning, it can do just that.