WASHINGTON — FBI Director Chris Wray on Wednesday said GOP accusations that he used his power to oppress conservatives are “insane.”
After Republicans complained for several hours during a House Judiciary Committee hearing that the FBI had been “weaponized” against GOPers, Wray offered a reality check.
“The idea that I am biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me, given my own personal background,” he said in response to a question from Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-Wyo.).
Wray, a registered Republican, was nominated for his position by former President Donald Trump, who said at the time of his selection that Wray had “impeccable credentials” including a stint as associate deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration.
For much of the hearing, Republicans suggested that the FBI under Wray has sought to persecute Trump and his supporters.
Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) asked Wray how many FBI agents were in the crowd of Trump supporters that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as part of Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election results.
More than a thousand rioters have been arrested for their actions that day, and nearly 200 have made public statements saying that they went to the Capitol at Trump’s urging — contrary to the conspiracy theory that they were actually manipulated by undercover FBI agents into ransacking the building.
“I do not believe there were undercover agents on scene,” Wray remarked, declining to say whether the FBI had confidential human sources in the crowd.
Court cases have revealed that there were confidential informants connected to the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers, groups that were integral to the attack, but defense attorneys have not claimed that the informants orchestrated the riot. One testified that he went to the Capitol not as an informant, but strictly as a Proud Boy.
Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) complained that the FBI stood by in 2020 while former intelligence officials disparaged stories sourced to the abandoned laptop of Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, as “disinformation” even though the FBI had confirmed that the laptop was authentic.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) asked about a recently uncovered text message allegedly from Hunter Biden to a Chinese business associate, in which the younger Biden appeared to invoke his father’s name in a demand for payment.
“Are you protecting the Bidens?” Gaetz asked.
“Absolutely not,” Wray said. “The FBI has no interest in protecting anyone politically.”
For the most part, however, Judiciary Committee Republicans did not ask Wray about their most recent high-profile allegations about the Bidens, including that Hunter Biden illegally received millions in payments from sources connected to the Chinese Communist Party.
On Monday, the Biden bribe story suffered an apparent setback after the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against Gal Luft, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen who has claimed knowledge of payments to the Bidens that would compromise the president. Luft had been hailed by Republicans as a credible whistleblower, but it turns out he’s a fugitive who is hiding from extradition to the U.S. to face charges related to arms dealing and failing to register as a foreign agent.
Elsewhere, Republicans have sounded cautious notes about the Biden allegations. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, acknowledged on Wednsday that Luft’s indictment could undermine portions of the House GOP case against the Bidens.
“If his activities as an unregistered foreign agent go to his credibility, if they are accurate, yeah,” Graham told HuffPost.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), meanwhile, said hasn’t seen any evidence yet of a link between Hunter Biden’s “unsavory” business dealings and Joe Biden, which some House Republicans have alleged.
“If there’s a connection between the unsavory activity of Hunter Biden and the president, that would be very important to know,” Romney said. “I haven’t seen evidence at this stage, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there. But if it is there, then let’s see it. But I haven’t heard any allegation yet that would suggest such a connection.”
“Hunter did a lot of really stupid stuff and is an embarrassment in how he took advantage of his family’s name to enrich himself,” Romney added. “But the sins of the children are not to be attributed to the parents unless we can show that was the case, and I don’t know that that’s been demonstrated yet.”