FBI director nominee says he does not agree with Trump that Mueller investigation is ‘witch hunt’

FBI director nominee Christopher Wray is sworn in during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee July 12, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Wray will fill the position that has been left behind by former director James Comey who was fired by President Donald Trump about two months ago. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The lawyer picked by President Trump to lead the FBI said at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday that he does not believe a special counsel investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump election campaign is a “witch hunt.”

Christopher Wray’s comments to the Senate Judiciary Committee represent a break with President Donald Trump, who has described the probe in those terms, including in a tweet earlier Wednesday morning.

Wray also told senators that he would never let politics get in the way of the bureau’s mission.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked about revelations that Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., met with a Russian lawyer during last year’s presidential campaign after he was told the Kremlin had incriminating evidence against Trump’s opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Graham asked whether Trump Jr. should have agreed to that meeting; Wray stopped short of answering.

Graham then asked whether he should meet with Russians if they wanted to help his campaign and hurt his opponent’s.

Wray told Graham he would probably want to consult with a legal adviser before doing so.

Asked whether someone should report that to the FBI, Wray added, “Any threat or effort to interfere with our election by any nation state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”

Wray says he has not been asked to pledge his loyalty to the White House nor would he do so.

Wray also said his loyalty is to the Constitution, the rule of law and the mission of the FBI. The comments came after questions from Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

Wray said, “No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn’t offer one.”

Leahy said he remains disturbed by FBI Director James Comey’s abrupt firing. Trump is said to have asked Comey for a loyalty pledge during a private dinner before his dismissal.

 

 

 

Wray’s  was also questioned by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Wray says he is “committed to supporting” the investigation “in whatever way is appropriate for me.” He added that any efforts to tamper would need to be dealt with “very sternly.”

He says he views Mueller “as the consummate straight shooter. Someone I have enormous respect for.”

The two worked together when Wray was in the Bush administration’s Justice Department.