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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 CoatsOvernight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Senators seek US intel on journalist's disappearance | Army discharged over 500 immigrant recruits in one year | Watchdog knocks admiral over handling of sexual harassment case Lawmakers seeking intel on alleged Saudi plot against journalist It’s not just foreign state-owned telecom posing a threat  MORE, CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoIMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East Saudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense: Trump worries Saudi Arabia treated as 'guilty until proven innocent' | McConnell opens door to sanctions | Joint Chiefs chair to meet Saudi counterpart | Mattis says Trump backs him '100 percent' MORE and National Security Agency Director Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersTrump's praise for North Korea complicates cyber deterrence Overnight Defense: Trump approves new counterterrorism strategy | Mattis calls Russian arms treaty violations 'untenable' | Trump may fire Air Force chief over Space Force, report says Trump considering firing Air Force secretary over 'Space Force' position: report 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 TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East 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 WydenUS to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK Poll: Dem incumbent holds 5-point lead in Oregon governor's race Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees 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.