Asked about President Trump’s tweet claiming that the FBI’s reputation was “in tatters,” FBI Director Chris Wray gave a full-throated defense of the agency Thursday, praising the “tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe.”
“The FBI that I see is people, decent people, committed to the highest principles of integrity and professionalism and respect,” Wray said. “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.”
Wray’s comments were in a response to a question about Trump’s tweet from House Judiciary Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), at hearing on FBI oversight in front of the committee.
In his opening statements, Wray said there was “no finer institution than the FBI” without speaking directly to Trump’s criticism. Nadler’s question was the first time he was asked about Trump’s tweet directly.
Amid his praise of the FBI, Wray said that “there is no shortage of opinions out there” and referenced the Inspector General’s probe into how the FBI handled election-related investigations in 2016.
“Now do we make mistakes? You bet we make mistakes, just like everybody who is human makes mistakes,” Wray sad. “When we make mistakes, there are independent processes like that of 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.”
Later in the hearing, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) asked Wray how comment like Trump’s would impact the FBI.
“Congresswoman, the agents, analysts and staff of the F.B.I. are big boys and girls. We understand that we will take criticism from all corners and we’re accustomed to that,” Wray said. “I believe, personally, based on what I’ve seen, that our reputation with our counterparts in law enforcement, federal, state and local, our counterparts in the intelligence community, our counterparts around the world, the communities that we serve, the victims that we protect, the judges we appear before, the scientists we interact with in the laboratory services space, for example, my experience has been that our reputation is quite good.”