FBI Director Christopher Wray strongly defended the agency from a recent attack by Donald Trump. He pointed out to Congress that the agency is on the front lines of the ongoing fight against terrorism, crime, and international espionage.
After Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, Trump attacked the agency, saying its “reputation is in tatters — worst in history.”
Asked directly about Trump’s tweet by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Wray strongly rebuked Trump’s broadside. Asking the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee for enough time to make his point clear, Wray hailed the “tens of thousands of brave men and women” working hard within the agency to fight crime and terrorism, and pointed out specifically that among those they are combatting are spies from Russia.
NADLER: We have heard other veterans of the FBI and the Department of Justice push back against this attack on the reputation of the FBI. At this time, we haven’t heard from you. In the time I have left, will you respond to this tweet by the president? Is the FBI’s reputation in tatters?
WRAY: Mr. Chairman, may I have time to answer this question because it’s something that matters to me a great deal.
GOODLATTE: Yes, go ahead, please.
WRAY: Congressman, there is no shortage of opinions out there. What I can tell you is that the FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran.
The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women who are working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm. And the FBI that I see was reflected in folks like the new class of agents that I swore in at Quantico two days ago: Hard-charging, high integrity people. People like the hostage rescue team, the SWAT teams that we send out into all sorts of danger with almost no notice.
The FBI that I see is people — decent people — committed to the highest principles of integrity and professionalism and respect. The FBI that I see is respected and appreciated by our partners in federal, state and local law enforcement, in the intelligence community, by our foreign counterparts, both law enforcement and national security in something like 200 countries around the world.
That’s the FBI that I see. Now, do we make mistakes? You bet we make mistakes, just like everybody that’s human makes mistakes and when we make mistakes, there are independent processes like the outside, independent inspector general that will drive and dive deep into the facts surrounding those mistakes and when that independent fact-finding is complete, we will hold our folks accountable if that’s appropriate.
Wray’s comments echo the sentiments of FBI agents as well. Thomas O’Connor, head of the FBI Agents Association, previously slammed Trump and noted, “FBI Agents are dedicated to their mission; suggesting otherwise is simply false.”
The Trump attack isn’t happening in a vacuum. He is under investigation by the agency for his campaign’s activities with Russia during the election. He fired then-FBI Director James Comey after repeatedly pressuring him to falsely claim that Trump was not a target.
To deflect from the guilty pleas of his inner circle — two so far, with two more indicted — Trump seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the FBI like he has tried to do with the media.
No matter who tells the truth or attempts to hold Trump to standards of truth and accountability, he lashes out. The FBI is not perfect, but they do not deserve to be dragged through the mud by the person holding the presidency.
Wray’s statement made it clear the agency’s leadership isn’t buckling under Trump’s attempt to bully them into silence.