President Trump has repeatedly called the special counsel investigation into potential coordination between his campaign and Russian election interference efforts a “witch hunt.”
On Wednesday, his nominee to lead the FBI, Christopher Wray, indicated that he does not agree.
“I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt,” Wray said under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
During the hearing, Wray revealed his willingness to disagree not just with the president but with his predecessor James Comey, who he criticized for holding a press conference last summer on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server even though no criminal wrongdoing was proven.
“I can’t imagine a situation where I would give a press conference on an uncharged individual,” he said. “I can’t think of a time where anyone in the FBI, much less a director, provided derogatory information about uncharged individuals.”
“In my experience as a prosecutor and as head of the criminal division, I understand there to be department policies that govern public comments about uncharged individuals,” he added. “I think those policies are there for a reason. I would follow those policies.”
Wray was very hesitant and visibly uncomfortable commenting on matters that are under ongoing investigation, including Comey’s fateful press conference, which may have influenced the outcome of the 2016 election. He was similarly wary of commenting about the recently revealed emails of Donald Trump, Jr., which revealed a willingness to take a meeting with a Russian government attorney promising compromising information on Hillary Clinton as part of Russian government efforts to help his father’s campaign.
Wray carefully avoided saying that Trump Jr. did anything unlawful, suggesting only that he should have informed the FBI about the Russian government’s offer of information.
“Any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know,” he said.