Hard questions FBI Director Wray may try to duck when he testifies Wednesday

by WorldTribune Staff, July 10, 2023

In his first appearance at a public hearing since special counsel John Durham released his report detailing widespread FBI misconduct in the Trump-Russia investigation, FBI Director Christopher Wray will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

“Facing scrutiny from GOP lawmakers that has included calls for his removal, Wray will come under enormous pressure to answer questions substantively, particularly after months during which the bureau has done little to address concerns about its work,” Washington Examiner investigative reporter Sarah Bedford reported on Monday.

Bedford listed several questions Wray is likely to face:

Why did the FBI withhold the FD-1023 from Congress?

The document, known as an FD-1023, that House Republicans battled the FBI to gain access to, memorialized information provided by an FBI source that alleged Joe Biden, while serving as vice president, received a $5 million bribe from a foreign national in exchange for favorable policy decisions.

The FBI initially denied that the document existed. Wray eventually relented and allowed lawmakers to view a redacted version of the form, but not before House Republicans threatened to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Why did the FBI’s Washington field office conduct the raid of Mar-a-Lago?

A former top FBI official told the House Judiciary Committee last month that FBI agents clashed with Department of Justice officials ahead of the raid of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home at Mar-a-Lago.

Steven D’Antuono, then the assistant director in charge at the FBI’s Washington field office, said he disagreed with the DOJ’s decision to carry out the unannounced raid rather than seek the cooperation of Trump’s lawyers, who had to date been working with the DOJ on the return of classified information.

House Judiciary members could also ask Wray why the decision was made to bypass the FBI’s Miami field office for the Mar-a-Lago raid in August 2022.

Why did the FBI limit the number of witnesses who IRS investigators could contact during the Hunter Biden investigation?

Gary Shapley, a 14-year veteran of the IRS who worked for years on the Hunter Biden investigation, told the House Ways and Means Committee that the FBI sought to cap the number of interviews investigators could conduct as they looked into suspicious activity related to Hunter Biden’s finances.

“The FBI tried to dictate that we only do five of the planned interviews so FBI management could reevaluate if they wanted to continue assisting,” Shapley testified, referring to the FBI’s actions in September 2020. At the time, IRS investigators had spent months requesting to conduct at least 15 witness interviews in the Hunter Biden tax case.

Republican lawmakers could press Wray on why so few witness interviews were conducted in the Hunter Biden tax case, as well as whether the bureau’s case agent in Delaware attempted to suppress the investigation in order to preserve his social standing in the town where Biden lived.

What has the FBI done to investigate attacks on anti-abortion centers and churches?

House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan has criticized the FBI for its seemingly uneven allocation of resources for investigations into incidents at abortion clinics versus anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers.

An anti-abortion activist involved in a minor physical altercation while protesting abortions at an abortion clinic in 2021 was arrested by Wray’s FBI agents on serious federal charges, of which he was later acquitted.

One FBI field office forced the bureau to backtrack after issuing an internal memo that proposed spying on conservative Catholic parishes to find evidence of extremism.

Are agents who worked on the Russia investigation still at the FBI?

Durham found that FBI officials at multiple levels of authority within the bureau had discarded protocols in a quest to go after Trump for political reasons ahead of the 2016 election, ignoring any evidence that contradicted their theories about Trump and Russia.

Whether any of the agents who participated in that botched investigation are working on the investigation of Trump’s classified document retention could be a key question for Wray, particularly given the criticism that the FBI has acted more aggressively than necessary in the classified document case as well.

How closely has the FBI worked with social media companies to censor speech?

The Twitter Files revealed evidence that the FBI and other government agencies had worked with social media platform to police content the government did not like.

Internal communications suggested the FBI at times listed specific posts that it wanted social media to remove.

Committee members could take the opportunity on Wednesday to press Wray about how closely the bureau has worked with social media companies to censor content.

Has Merrick Garland ever asked you to stand down on an investigative step?

Attorney General Merrick Garland has faced criticism for decisions that have seemed to benefit the Biden family and Biden’s political agenda.

Wray could be asked how frequently Garland has weighed in on investigative decisions in the multiple sensitive political investigations under the FBI’s purview. He could also be asked how frequently he’s discussed investigative decisions with Garland.

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