Biden press secretary doesn’t say if Biden has confidence in FBI Director Wray

Biden press secretary doesn’t say if Biden has confidence in FBI Director Wray

President Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say whether the president has faith in FBI Director Christopher Wray, whose tenure began following the firing of James Comey and whose rocky relationship with former President Donald Trump led to speculation that the former president might fire him.

During her first press conference after Biden was sworn in, Psaki was asked whether the president was being updated on the FBI’s investigation into the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6 and if Biden has confidence in Wray.

Psaki answered the first question but not the second, saying, “There’s an ongoing investigation, which we certainly support, I’m not sure he has received an update today on anything about the investigation, but we certainly support those ongoing and we will, I’m sure, be receiving updates in the days ahead.”

Psaki was asked again whether Biden had confidence in Wray.

“I have not spoken to him about specifically FBI Director Wray in recent days, but I will circle back if there is more to convey,” she said.

Biden himself has been quiet about Wray. An anonymous senior Biden adviser reportedly said the now-president was “not removing the FBI director unless Trump fired him,” which Trump did not end up doing, according to the New York Times in December. FBI directors are typically given a 10-year term.

The FBI director described the bureau’s inquiry into the siege of the Capitol during a security briefing for former Vice President Mike Pence last week, and Wray also detailed the bureau’s efforts to keep the Biden inauguration safe, saying, “Just as we’re doing with our investigation into last week’s violent activities at the Capitol, we’re bringing our aggressive operational capabilities and deep investigative and intelligence expertise to next week’s inauguration.”

Wray was nominated by Trump in June 2017 after the former president fired Comey the month before. In 2018, Trump said that Comey had sullied the FBI’s reputation but that Wray “will bring it proudly back.”

Trump periodically criticized Wray, including back in May when he asserted that Wray was actually “appointed by” former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Trump said that “the jury is still out” on Wray. But the former president said that he was ultimately leaving the decision up to former Attorney General William Barr.

Wray faced criticism by Republican lawmakers for his handling of the case against retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and other Trump-Russia controversies, accusing the bureau chief of slow-walking the release of documents about the FBI’s Russia investigation. But Barr repeatedly defended Wray, saying, “He’s been a great partner to me in our effort to restore the American people’s confidence in both the Department of Justice and the FBI.” Biden has nominated Judge Merrick Garland to be his attorney general.

The FBI director testified back in February there had been at least some illegal surveillance related to the FISA warrants against Trump campaign associate Carter Page, said every member of the FBI mentioned in DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s Trump-Russia investigation report had been referred for a disciplinary review, and emphasized that “the failures highlighted in that report are unacceptable — period.”

The FBI director testified before Congress in the fall that voter fraud is a problem “at the local level from time to time” but that he hadn’t seen evidence of widescale fraud.

Conservative lawmakers had also pushed the FBI to say whether it was investigating Biden’s son, Hunter, but the FBI declined to confirm or deny such an investigation.

Wray had publicly warned about Russian and Iranian election meddling, the threat posed by white supremacist violence, and the danger of a rising Communist China that seeks to become the world’s sole superpower “by any means necessary.”

The FBI Agents Association sent a letter to both Trump and Biden in late October, saying that “our members strongly support Director Wray continuing his ten-year term.”

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