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Tag: christopher wray

LA Times: Congressional Republicans Ignore Facts to Protect Trump

U.S. Capitol

By Editorial Board
Los Angeles Times

Following President Trump’s questionable lead, some congressional Republicans are trying to sow doubt about the integrity and impartiality of the FBI and the investigation led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. That investigation already has resulted in an indictment of Trump’s former campaign chairman and a guilty plea by his first national security advisor, and it shows no sign of concluding.

On Thursday, four days after Trump tweeted that the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters,” Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told FBI Director Christopher A. Wray: “We cannot afford for the FBI — which has traditionally been dubbed the premier law enforcement agency in the world — to become tainted by politicization or the perception of a lack of even-handedness.”

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. So far the evidence points strongly in the latter direction. That comes as no surprise — the attacks on the FBI 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.

To read more click here.

FBI Director: Trump’s Blistering Criticism of Bureau Is Offbase

Christopher Wray testifies during his confirmation hearing to become the next FBI directoru

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray vigorously defended his bureau and employees against President Trump’s histrionic rant about the bureau’s reputation.

Wray, who was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate just four months ago, told the House Judiciary Committee that the FBI is “respected and appreciated” by its partners in foreign and domestic law enforcement. 

“The FBI I see is reflected in folks like the new class of agents I swore in in Quantico two days ago,” Wray said during his first testimony on Capitol Hill. “Hard-charging, high integrity people. People like the hostage rescue team and SWAT teams that we send out into all sorts of danger with almost no notice.”

Some Republicans grilled Comey about what they characterized as a politically driven special counsel investigation into the cozy relationship between Trump’s campaign and Russia. As an example, Republicans cited recent revelations that a top FBI official, Peter Strzok, was removed from the special counsel team for sending text messages critical of Trump.

“If you kicked everybody off of Mueller’s team who was anti-Trump, I don’t think there’d be anybody left,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. 

The hearing came just four days after Trump slammed the FBI and special counsel investigation, resorting to overwrought rhetoric. In one tweet, for example, Trump insisted the special counsel probe is the “greatest witch hunt in political history.”

Wray told the committee “there is no finer institution” than the FBI.

“We are determined to be the very best at protecting the American people and upholding the rule of law,” Wray said.

Wray, a former Justice Department official, is by no means a liberal. According to the Federal Election Commission, Wray has been an unwavering supporter of
Republican candidates, donating more than $35,000 to their campaigns.

 

FBI Director Defends Agents Against Dubious Trump Attacks

Christopher Wray is sworn in as the new FBI director. Photo via FBI.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his bureau against repeated attacks from President Trump and sought to assure employees and agents that they’re appreciated and admired. 

Responding to the president’s unfunded and dubious claims on Twitter that the FBI’s standing was “the worst in History,” Wray sent an email to the bureau’s 35,000 agents and support staff and said he is “inspired by example after example of professionalism and dedication to justice demonstrated around the bureau. It is truly an honor to represent you,” The New York Times reports

Wray, whom Trump nominated to replace fired FBI Director James Comey, didn’t mention the president by name but showed his loyalty is to his employees, not the president. Wray has been on the job for about four months.

Trump has become more vociferous and conspiratorial as the special council investigation continues to heat up and get closer to his inner circle.

Wray encouraged his employees to ignore criticism and continue to focus on enforcing the law and Constitution.

House Republicans Pledge Contempt Charges Against FBI, DOJ

Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

U.S. House Republicans are preparing to wage war against FBI Director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the special investigation into Trump’s campaign increases in intensity.

Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes and other committee Republicans are drafting a contempt of Congress resolution against the two leaders, claiming lawmakers are being stonewalled as they seek material related to probe, Bloomberg reports

The action follows media reports about FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s  removal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team for writing text messages criticizing Trump and supporting Hillary Clinton.

Nunes said the FBI and Justice Department are refusing to fully comply with an Aug. 24 committee subpoena.

“In light of today’s press reports, we now know why Strzok was dismissed, why the FBI and DOJ refused to provide us this explanation, and at least one reason why they previously refused to make Deputy Director McCabe available to the Committee for an interview,” Nunes said.

“By hiding from Congress, and from the American people, documented political bias by a key FBI head investigator for both the Russia collusion probe and the Clinton email investigation, the FBI and DOJ engaged in a willful attempt to thwart Congress’ constitutional oversight responsibility,” he said.

Other Stories of Interest

Congressional Black Caucus Grills FBI Director over ‘Black Identity Extremists’ Report

Christopher Wray testifies during his confirmation hearing to become the next FBI director.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Black members of Congress confronted FBI Director Christopher Wray over a report that says the bureau is targeting so-called “Black Identity Extremists”over fears of violence against law enforcement.

The Congressional Black Caucus met with Wray for nearly two hours  to discuss concerns about the ambiguous report, which echoed the rhetoric used by the FBI to spy on black activists in the 1960s and 70s.

Rep. Hakeen Jeffries, D-N.Y., told the New York Times that Wray had trouble defending the report and could not identify a black identity extremist group. 

“He was asked to publicly clarify that there is no scintilla of evidence, as far as we can tell, to provide an example of the black identity extremist movement or any groups that fall in that category,” Jeffries said. “That clarification should be made publicly, it seems to many of us, and not privately behind closed doors.”

Elected leaders and civil rights activists have voiced concerns about the intent of the report and whether it was meant to chill free speech.

“The F.B.I. is linking disparate conduct and unconnected groups to come up with a manufactured black race-based ideology for suspicion and investigation,” said Hina Shamsi, the director of the National Security Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. “We’ve seen this kind of shoddy analysis and bias-based conclusions all too often, applied to African-Americans, Muslim-Americans, environmental activists and others.”

Shamsi added, “The F.B.I. has a critical role in protecting civil liberties, but it routinely undermines them by unjustifiably and unfairly targeting minorities and those who dissent.”

During a House Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month, Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted he never read the report and couldn’t name a single black identity extremist group.

African Americans were subjected to illegal FBI surveillance in the 1960s and 70s because of similar rhetoric under a subversive program called COINTELPRO.

FBI Director Wray: Wants to Bring ‘Calm and Stability’ to Bureau; Gravely Concerned About Getting Access to Mobile Phones

Christopher Wray speaks at IACP in Philly.

Christopher Wray speaks at IACP in Philly.

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

PHILADELPHIA — Recently minted FBI Director Christopher Wray said Sunday at the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia that one of  his immediate goals is to restore “calm and stability to the bureau.” He also  expressed grave concern about the difficulty of getting access to thousands of cell phones in criminal cases due to encryption and privacy issues, a problem often referred to as “going dark.”

“In the first 11 months of this fiscal year alone, we were unable to access the content of more than 6,900, that six-thousand-nine-hundred, mobile devices using appropriate and available technical tools even though we had the legal authority to do so. ”

“Each one of those 6,900 mobile devices is tied to a specific subject, a specific defendant, a specific victim, a specific investigation. That’s more than half …..of all the mobile devices that we attempted to access in that time frame. And that’s just the FBI.”

He called it a horrible situation that needs to be resolved.

The FBI director traditionally speaks to the attendees of the conference, who come from around the world,  and ex-Director James Comey would have attended this year’s event had he not been fired.

Wray, who calmly delivered a half hour speech, and fielded questions afterwards, got a standing ovation.

The former federal prosecutor talked about the need for the FBI to cooperate with local law enforcement and said he was pleasantly surprised to see how well the bureau had been doing in that area. He emphasized that the FBI was there to assist local law enforcement.

Wray also assured the crowd he was determined to carry out the mission of the FBI with integrity “no matter the test.”

It wan’t clear if he was talking about the general challenges of the job, or the difficulties he may face serving a president who fired his predecessor.

He said he planned to bring calm and stability to bureau  “by staying laser focused on the mission and on the work itself, day in, day out, left foot, right foot, grinding away, following the rules, following the law, following the guidelines trying  to make sure that we’re dong the right thing but in the right way, treating everybody with respect. “

FBI Director Doesn’t Want New Barriers Placed On NSA Surveillance Program

Christopher Wray (File photo)

Christopher Wray (File photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The constant battle over privacy and the need to access information for national security is playing out in Washington.

Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post reports:

FBI Director Christopher A. Wray warned Friday that changing the rules of a soon-to-expire surveillance program could create new barriers to preventing terrorist attacks, similar to those that existed before 2001.

In defending his agency’s information-sharing program with the National Security Agency — which civil liberties groups have criticized as a threat to privacy — Wray said his agents get just a small piece of the NSA’s intelligence gathering.

“The FBI only receives collection for a very small percentage of what the NSA does. It’s about 4.3 percent of the targets under NSA collection. But that 4.3 percent is unbelievably valuable to our mission,’’ Wray said during an appearance at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington. He did not say how large that database is.

Russia Will Try Harder to Influence Next Prez Election, FBI Director Predicts

FBI Director Christopher Wray (File photo)

FBI Director Christopher Wray (File photo)

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

It’s no secret that Russia has tried to influence elections around the world for many years.

But 2016 appeared to be banner year for the Russians when it came to the U.S. election.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, addressing a crowd of about 150 people at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York, said he expects the U.S. to be better prepared to deal with threats in the 2018 and 2020 elections, Max Kutner of Newsweek reports.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: He says anticipates Russia will also be better prepared to go at it again.

“We know a lot more now than we did about all the different threats, whether it’s to our election systems or anything else,” the director said when asked about Russia. “I would expect that we would do better, but I also expect that our adversaries don’t just coast, right? They up their game, too.”