FBI director nominee Christopher Wray said President Donald Trump did not ask him for a loyalty pledge, nor would he give one, and that, in his experience, the Trump-fired FBI director James Comey is not a “nutjob” as the president described him to Russian officials in the Oval Office.
At his Wednesday morning confirmation grilling before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray vowed to remain independent of any POTUS pressure, and said he has no reason to doubt the findings of the intelligence committee that Russia was behind election hacks.
Sen. Lindsey Graham considerably livened up the questioning/speechifying by members of the committee when he asked Trump’s nominee if he was familiar with “the email problems we’ve had with Donald Trump Jr the last few days.”
Wray said he had “heard there was an issue” but has been busy meeting with Graham’s colleagues the past several days and “missed that.”
Graham tried to fill in the gap, reading Wray the much-media-discussed email that publicist Rod Goldstone sent to Don Jr. on June 3, 2016 – part of the email chain Jr. had tweeted Tuesday morning for the sake of “transparency” after learning the New York Times was about to do same. In the email, Goldstone, acting as intermediary, offered the Trump campaign some “high level” and “sensitive” information, including official docs, that he said would incriminate Hillary Clinton and be very useful to candidate Trump, saying it was “part of Russia and its government’s support for Trump.”
“I love it,” Donald Jr. responded, among other things.
“Should Donald Trump Jr. have taken that meeting?” Graham asked.
Wray said he was not in a position to speak to it.
“Well, let me ask you this: If I got a call saying the Russian government wants to help Lindsey Graham get re-elected, they’ve got dirt on my opponent, should I take that meeting?”
Wray said he would want Graham to consult with “some good legal advisers before you did that.”
“Should I call the FBI?” Graham asked, clearly pressing Wray for a more yeasty response.
“I think it would be wise to let the FBI know,” Wray responded.
“You want to be director of the FBI, pal,” Graham shot back. “So here’s what I want you to tell every politician: If you get a call from somebody suggesting that a foreign government wants to help you by disparaging your opponent, tell us all to call the FBI.”
Wray was happy to oblige:
“To the members of this committee: Any threat or effort to interfere with our election, from any nation state, or any non-state actor, is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”
“Alright, so I’ll take it we should call you – and that’s a great answer,” Graham beamed.
Graham also asked if Wray believes Russia messed with the 2016 election, President Trump having continued to say other governments might also have been involved.
“I have no reasons to doubt the conclusion of the intelligence committee,” Wray responded.
And, when asked if he thought Robert Mueller’s probe into that Russian interference and possible ties to the Trump campaign was, as Trump has insisted, a “witch hunt,” Wray assured, “I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt.”
CNN reports Mueller will review Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer, and emails about that meeting and information promised.
A few lively questions later, Graham announced, “From my point of view you’re the right guy at the right time – good luck.”