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Republicans Press FBI Director Over Political Bias by Agents

Bloomberg 2017-12-07 22:43:29

FBI Director Christopher Wray told Republican lawmakers Thursday that he’s awaiting the results of an independent investigation before judging whether agents may be letting their political bias interfere with their work.

Wray told the House Judiciary Committee that if the Justice Department’s inspector general finds any agents acted improperly in last year’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of private email, they will be dealt with. The inspector general is expected to release findings in January.

“The handling of the investigation and, in particular, whether or not decisions made in that investigation were the product of any improper considerations, is precisely what the outside, independent inspector general is deciding," Wray said.

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into ties between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia moves forward, Republicans are focusing on improper conduct by FBI agents, prosecutors or officials appointed by former President Barack Obama.

Republicans, led by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, questioned whether bias in favor of Clinton or against the president has crept into the high ranks of the FBI or Mueller’s probe.

FBI’s Reputation

"It does appear to me that, at the very least, the FBI’s reputation as an impartial, non-political agency has been called into question recently," Goodlatte said.

Representative Steve Chabot, an Ohio Republican, said “the depths of this anti-Trump bias on the Mueller team just goes on an on. It’s absolutely shocking."

Republican criticism about Mueller’s probe intensified following a recent revelation that a top FBI agent assigned to the special counsel’s team allegedly sent anti-Trump texts last summer. Mueller removed the agent, Peter Strzok, after learning of the allegations.

Wray said the FBI is working with the Justice Department to review text messages allegedly sent between Strzok and other agents to determine if there is anything in them that’s improper. 

Wray also disputed a tweet from Trump that the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s reputation is in tatters.

"The agents, analysts and staff of the FBI are big boys and girls," Wray said.

"We understand that we will take criticism from all corners and we are accustomed to that," Wray said. “My experience has been that our reputation is quite good.”