FBI director commits to providing Senate information after grilling from Democrat
FBI Director Christopher Wray committed on Tuesday to providing the Senate with requested information after facing a grilling from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).
Whitehouse blasted the FBI during Wray’s hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, saying the agency had not answered lawmakers’ written questions in seven out of nine hearings that involved FBI witnesses in the last four years.
The confrontation resulted in Wray committing to “do what I can to improve the process.”
The Rhode Island senator first called on the FBI director to “explain” the lack of response to questions, prompting Wray to answer, “I cannot.”
“You gonna do any better with the questions that we’re getting right now?” Whitehouse said. “You’ve been asked questions for the record. Are they going to go into the same, whatever it was, hole where questions for the record go to die at the FBI?”
Wray initially responded by saying that the process of answering those questions requires the FBI to go through “an elaborate interagency process.”
The Democratic senator then asserted that the FBI did not “seem to go through any interagency process” when addressing some questions from Republicans about the investigation into the FBI’s previous Russia probe.
“When it’s a question that suddenly of interest to one party and to President Trump, there seems to be a little side road that gets built around the traffic jam and stuff just flies right through,” he said. “So please don’t tell me about interagency process when I’ve been sitting in this committee, watching FBI information get straight to this committee, without interagency process.”
Sen. Whitehouse accuses FBI Director Wray of giving politically sensitive info to GOP while withholding answers from Democrats for years
“You’ve been asked questions for the record. Are they going to go into the same hole where questions for the record go to die at the FBI?” pic.twitter.com/fzd8v7FjhQ
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 2, 2021
Whitehouse also raised calls for Congress to withhold funding from the FBI and other unresponsive agencies, adding, “I don’t think you want that to be our tool.”
“If it means doing whatever it takes to get through this problem, we’re going to get through this problem, because it is just plain wrong for the executive branch of government in a separations of power country to refuse to answer questions of the elected representatives of the legislative branch,” the senator said.
The FBI director responded by saying he agreed that Congress “needs answers to its questions” and he is also “frustrated” with the response process, noting that he has dedicated more staff to deal with it.
“Senator, I commit to working with you to try and see how we can improve our responsiveness and to getting you more of the information you need,” Wray said.
Wray’s hearing in front of the Senate centered around the FBI’s response and investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol . The Justice Department has charged more than 300 people with involvement in the riot.
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