Week ahead: FBI, intel chiefs head to Capitol Hill

Week ahead: FBI, intel chiefs head to Capitol Hill
© Camille Fine

The head of the FBI is expected to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the coming week for a routine hearing about global threats that pose a risk to U.S. national security.

FBI Director Christopher Wray, who is scheduled to appear on Tuesday, will address questions about worldwide threats with other top intelligence officials, including Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsHillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans Questions mount over Trump-Putin discussions Overnight Defense: White House 'not considering' Ukraine referendum | Pompeo hopeful on plans for Putin visit | Measure to block ZTE deal dropped from defense bill MORE, CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans Dem lawmaker calls on Pompeo to keep export restrictions on 3D gun-printing software Questions mount over Trump-Putin discussions MORE and National Security Agency Director Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersHillicon Valley: EU hits Google with record B fine | Trump tries to clarify Russia remarks | Sinclair changing deal to win over FCC | Election security bill gets traction | Robocall firm exposed voter data Former Intel panel chairman says Trump betrayed US intelligence community Trump and Putin should be talking about cyber weapons and social media instead of nuclear weapons MORE, among others, according to the committee. 

His appearance on Capitol Hill comes at a time when the bureau is facing scrutiny from President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE and some GOP lawmakers over allegations of political bias. 

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While FBI agent Peter Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page no longer serve on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE's investigative team after an internal investigation last year revealed that they had sent text messages disparaging Trump and other political figures during the election, Republican senators may question Wray about the status of the two officials, their involvement in now-closed investigations and their continued work at the bureau.

Also be on the lookout for a possible showdown between Wray and Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight House passes measure blocking IRS from revoking churches' tax-exempt status over political activity Senators introduce bipartisan bill to improve IRS MORE (D-Ore.) over the issue of encryption. Wyden wrote a letter to the FBI chief in late January blasting him for calling for a technical fix to the so-called going dark problem, or the inability of authorities to break into encrypted devices and access-protected data during investigations.

Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Subcommittee on Information Technology is holding the first of three hearings on artificial intelligence on Wednesday, exploring the barriers to, as well as potential challenges and advantages of, use of AI in the government.

The House Intelligence Committee will also likely be busy. Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon may appear before the House panel in the coming week. The meeting was postponed on Wednesday over a dispute between Bannon's legal team and the committee about the scope of his pending interview. 

In a committee consumed with partisan infighting, both Democrats and Republicans were equally infuriated with Bannon last month after he essentially asserted a form of executive privilege, refusing to discuss matters that took place during the Trump transition period.

Lawmakers on the committee said he had no basis to assert this privilege on the transition period because Trump was not in office yet.

If Bannon does not appear, expect Democrats on the committee to push for a vote to enforce the subpoena against him.

 

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Morgan Chalfant contributed.