Federal Bureau of Investigation nominee: Russian Federation probe not a 'witch hunt'
- Author: Marlene Weaver Jul 13, 2017,
Jul 13, 2017, 0:43
Christopher Wray, a former top Justice Department official who Trump nominated for the Federal Bureau of Investigation post in June, repeatedly indicated that he was not up to date on the latest revelations about the meeting.
"The FBI has a 10-year term limit, and no restrictions on any president to fire any director", Grassley said.
Wray said it would be wrong for Ukraine to meddle in the election and "I'd be happy to dig into it". Ben Sasse (R-Neb.).
"I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt", Wray said under questioning from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of SC.
Trump fired Comey on May 9, igniting a political firestorm, and later cited the "Russia thing" as his reason. Rosenstein, Wray recalled, made the observation that when he was first contacted about the job, Special Counsel Mueller had been "appointed to deal with the issue" and "that made a better landscape" for him to consider taking on the position.
Wray says, "no one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn't offer one". Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).
Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the president asked for his loyalty, a request critics deemed inappropriate.
He pledged to lead the FBI "without regard to any partisan political influence" and said he would consider unacceptable any efforts to interfere with Mr Mueller's investigation.
Members of the party opposite to the president's tend to ask tougher questions of the nominee, as a general rule of thumb in the Senate. Trump allies have said Mueller's closeness to Comey shows he can't lead an unbiased probe.
"Based on press reports and the president's own words, the reason Mr. Comey was dismissed was because he would not pledge his loyalty to the president and he would not lift the cloud of the Russian Federation investigation", she said.
Graham: "Do you believe that in light of the Don Jr email and other allegations that this whole thing about Trump campaign and Russian Federation is a witch hunt?"
Wray confronts the same high-wire balancing act that other Trump picks, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, faced during their hearings: demonstrating his independence from Trump without alienating him.
Wray declined to comment because he said he hadn't looked into the case enough. The administration initially suggested that Trump fired Comey because of a recommendation by Deputy Atty. "Is that a fair description of what we're all dealing with in America?"
Wray agreed with Graham and told the assembled senators that "any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation-state, or any non-state actor" should be reported to law enforcement.
He also told Democratic Sen. Graham asked, clearly pressing Wray for a more yeasty response.