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FBI director to testify before House panel as he attacks office – UnlistedNews

Christopher A. Wray, the director of the FBI, is expected to face an extraordinary political storm Wednesday when he testifies before Congress, and Republicans who once defended the office now denounce it as a weapon against former President Donald J. Trump and His Followers.

Wray, appearing before the House Judiciary Committee for the first time since Republicans won the House, is probably preparing for the worst. The committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, says it will “examine the politicization” of the FBI under Wray and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

Encouraged by Trump, congressional Republicans have adopted an increasingly caustic tone in their criticism of the country’s top law enforcement agency, seeking to damage the office’s legitimacy and undermine its reputation with the public.

That criticism was once based on the office’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the 2016 election. It now turns to other critical points: Trump’s prosecution in an investigation into his handling of classified documents; the role of the FBI in the search of the former president’s Mar-a-Lago property last August, as part of that investigation; unsubstantiated claims of a “two-tier” justice system that favors Democrats; and the Justice Department’s plea deal with the president’s son, Hunter Biden.

So far, the Republicans have provided no evidence that the FBI and Wray are partisan, but they will try to surprise Wray and cast doubt on his motives.

Here’s what to look for:

Wray angered Trump, who considered the director’s declaration of independence a disloyalty. But Mr. Wray has previously testified before Congress, strongly defending the FBI as nonpartisan and criticizing Trump, who was president at the time, on Twitter.

Trump appointed Wray in 2017 after he fired James B. Comey, who as FBI director had opened the Russia investigation. Since then, Wray has come under constant pressure from Republicans, who at the same time denounced lawlessness in Democratic-run cities and attacked the FBI’s role in political investigations.

In the past, Wray has responded to attacks by carefully weighing his words. In his opening statement, he is expected to forcefully defend the FBI and refuse to discuss open investigations, which is Justice Department policy.

“The work that the men and women of the FBI do to protect the American people goes well beyond the one or two investigations that seem to grab all the headlines,” he is expected to say, according to prepared statements.

Trump and his supporters, as well as a vocal group of former FBI officials who have sided with Republicans in Congress, believe the administration is trying to silence and punish conservatives and see the office as a dangerous extension of that effort. .

Case in point: In January, House Republicans voted to investigate the application of the law, creating the Federal Government Select Subcommittee on Weapons.

Republicans have claimed that the FBI urged Twitter to discriminate against their party, as well as conservative or right-wing protesters at school board meetings and abortion clinics. Those issues have proven powerful drivers of voter turnout among the party’s pro-Trump base.

The subcommittee is led by Jordan, a close Trump ally.

Trump and his allies were infuriated by his impeachment and the Mar-a-Lago search in August, when FBI agents arrived at his residence and discovered hundreds of classified documents.

The former president and his supporters have said that Trump declassified the records, meaning there was no misconduct to begin with, and that the search was an example of an unequal application of justice.

But so far no evidence has emerged that the documents have been declassified or that the search, which was approved by a federal judge, was inappropriate or politically motivated. In fact, the search developed after Trump repeatedly resisted government requests to return the material.

In recent weeks, Steven D’Antuono, the former lead FBI agent overseeing the documents case, has testified behind closed doors before Jordan.

When asked if “animus was motivated by anyone” in the document investigation, Mr. D’Antuono said no, according to a transcript of his testimony.

Under the agreement with the Department of Justice, Mr. Biden agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor charges for failing to pay his 2017 and 2018 taxes on time and be sentenced to probation. The department also said he would not prosecute him for purchasing a firearm in 2018 during a period when he was using drugs.

Republicans have criticized the deal, calling it too lenient, despite years of investigation by a Trump-appointed US attorney finding only evidence to charge Biden on narrow tax and gun issues, rather than broad conspiracies. international organizations promoted by Mr. Trump and his allies.

That federal prosecutor, David C. Weiss, who signed the agreement, has also been criticized. On Monday, Mr. Weiss rebutted a key element of congressional testimony from an Internal Revenue Service official who said Mr. Weiss had complained that he was prevented from filing more serious charges.

A final report by John H. Durham, the Trump-era special counsel, analyzed the origins of the FBI investigation into any ties the Trump campaign had to Russia, but found no evidence of politically motivated misconduct.

Trump and his loyalists had long insisted that the Durham investigation would uncover a “deep state” conspiracy intended to harm him politically, but Durham has never indicted high-level government officials.

Instead, Durham developed only two fringe cases involving allegations of making false statements, both of which ended in acquittals, while using his report to cite failures in the FBI’s early investigative steps that he blamed on confirmation bias.

Still, Durham’s report has continued to fuel Republican claims of bias, with some accusing the FBI of taking actions motivated by political favoritism. That charge will almost certainly resurface during Mr. Wray’s testimony.

Republicans have claimed the Justice Department is “armed” against conservatives, but charges brought by aggrieved former FBI officials have failed.

Instead, Democratic investigators have found that those former FBI officials trafficked in right-wing conspiracy theories, including about the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, and received financial support from a major Trump ally.

But the tug of war is having an impact. Mr. D’Antuono, in his testimony, rejected accusations of political bias and rejected calls to defund the office, but expressed concern for the future.

“In my opinion,” he said, “the more the American people hear about not trusting the FBI, it’s not a good day for this country.”


Sara Marcus
Sara Marcushttps://unlistednews.com
Meet Sara Marcus, our newest addition to the Unlisted News team! Sara is a talented author and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in a variety of publications. Sara's writing style is characterized by its incisiveness and thought-provoking nature, and her insightful commentary on music, politics, and social justice is sure to captivate our readers. We are thrilled to have her join our team and look forward to sharing her work with our readers.


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