Graham says FBI chief ‘committed to being helpful’ after Trump criticism
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) offered public support for FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday, hours after President Trump appeared to seek distance from the agency chief.
Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that he had spoken with Wray about cooperating with the panel’s probe into “Crossfire Hurricane” — the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference, former special counsel Robert Mueller’s subsequent probe and the court associated with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
“I believe the Director is committed to being helpful – in an appropriate manner – by balancing the needs of privacy for Bureau employees with public transparency for the benefit of the American people,” Graham said, adding that they had a “very good discussion.”
The FBI director, according to Graham, said he was committed “to holding accountable those who may have committed violations of law or policy,” but that he will also defer to an ongoing investigation being conducted by U.S. Attorney John Durham, who was appointed by Attorney General William Barr to review the origins of the Russia probe.
Graham’s statement comes as Wray has come under criticism from several GOP lawmakers, including top Trump allies, in recent months.
Trump was asked during an interview with Fox Business on Thursday if he thought Wray was hiding information about the Russia probe and if he should step down.
Instead of directly answering, Trump said Wray was put in charge by a “certain person” — despite it being Trump who appointed him to the job in 2017, with the Senate confirming him in a 92-5 vote — and the president said he wished Wray was “more forthcoming.”
“So, Christopher Wray was put there. We have an election coming up,” Trump said. “I wish he was more forthcoming. He certainly hasn’t been. There are documents they want to get and that we have said we want to get. We’re going to find out if he’s going to give those documents.”
“He’s been very, very protective. He was put there for good reason,” Trump continued. “He was chosen by a certain person, and I said go ahead put whoever you want. I’m so honest that I said you can put anybody you want. Let’s see how Wray turns out. He’s going to either turn out one way or the other.”
Two GOP chairmen — Graham and Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.), the head of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — are pressing the FBI for information as part of their separate probes into the FBI’s investigation and the Obama-era Justice Department and FBI.
Johnson subpoenaed the FBI for documents, under broad authorization he got from Republicans on the Homeland Security panel in June, saying he had “run out of patience.”
That includes any records previously given to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz as part of his review of the four FISA warrants against former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
Graham sent a letter to Wray this week about a 2018 briefing involving a controversial research dossier from 2016 compiled on then-candidate Donald Trump that the FBI provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Graham is not a member of.
As part of his letter, Graham is asking Wray to provide the names of officials who drafted the outline of the Intelligence Committee briefing and to turn over documents used to prepare the outline. He also wants to know who attended the briefing, and copies of any documents that were used to brief any congressional committees or lawmakers about the dossier, the Page surveillance warrant applications or the FBI investigation into Russia’s election meddling and the Trump campaign.