The FBI director on Wednesday danced around a question about whether the President Donald Trump or anyone from his administration had sought investigations from the Bureau as retaliation over Trump’s impeachment.
Some reporting has indicated Trump is seeking payback against members of Congress and others involved in his impeachment. For example, one unnamed source briefed on private conversations told Vanity Fair that “Trump has been calling people and telling them to go after [former National Security Adviser John] Bolton.”
But when House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and, later, Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CO) brought up that reporting in a hearing Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray didn’t answer directly.
“Has the President, the attorney general or any other administration official asked the FBI to open an investigation into Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, John Bolton or any member of Congress?” he asked.
Wray chuckled slightly, then said “I have assured the Congress, and I can assure the Congress today that the FBI will only open investigations based on the facts and the law and proper predication.”
Nadler understood that, he said. “And I assume that it is correct that neither the President, the attorney general or any other administration official has asked the FBI to open improper political investigations?”
Again, Wray didn’t exactly answer the question.
“And no one has asked me to open an investigation based on anything other than the facts, the law and proper predication,” he said.
Wray: "No one has asked me to open an investigation based on anything other than the facts, the law and proper predication." pic.twitter.com/hxtJNKsthj
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) February 5, 2020
Neguse returned to Nadler’s question later in the hearing, pressing Wray on whether or not any request had been made to investigate Bolton at all — regardless of whether the request was considered proper or not, or whether an investigation was actually carried out.
“I’m simply asking if they’ve asked you to do so,” he prompted Wray.
“I understand why you’re asking the question and I would just tell you my commitment to doing things by the book includes not talking about whether or not any particular investigation does or does not exist,” Wray responded.
“You shouldn’t read anything into that,” he continued. “That’s not a hint that anything’s happening, it’s just, I don’t think that’s a question that I can responsibly answer if I’m going to be faithful to my commitment to doing things by the book.”
Wray then offered, almost word for word, the answer he’d given Nadler: “No one has asked me to open any investigation on anything that’s not consistent with the facts, the law and proper predication.”
This post has been updated.