FBI Director Christopher Wray insisted Thursday that the FBI's reputation was not "in tatters" as President Donald Trump said in a weekend tweet.
FBI Director Christopher Wray insisted Thursday that the FBI's reputation was not "in tatters," days after President Donald Trump suggested was the case in a weekend tweet.
Wray was pressed on Trump's tweet during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. A pair of Democratic members — Reps. Jerold Nadler of New York, the ranking member of the committee, and Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas — asked about Trump's tweet.
"There is no shortage of opinions out there," Wray said. "What I can tell you is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe from the next terrorist attack, gang violence, child predators, spies from Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women who are working as hard as they can to keep people that they will never know safe from harm."
In a weekend tweetstorm, Trump blasted the FBI for having what he believed to be a "double standard." It came after his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was charged lying to the FBI, while 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did not face punishment as a result of the investigation into her use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state.
Trump also retweeted reports that a top FBI investigator on special counsel Robert Mueller's team was removed from the investigation for exchanging text messages that could be construed as anti-Trump.
The investigator, Peter Strzok, had a prominent role in the FBI's Clinton investigation.
"Now it all starts to make sense!" Trump tweeted.
"After years of" former FBI Director James "Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters — worst in History!" Trump tweeted. "But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness."
Given the opportunity to publicly address Trump's comments, Wray pushed back on the idea that the FBI's reputation is "in tatters" and the "worst in history."
"The FBI I see is reflected in folks like the new class of agents I swore in in Quantico two days ago," he said. "Hard-charging, high integrity people. People like the hostage rescue team and SWAT teams that we send out into all sorts of danger with almost no notice."
He added that he sees an agency that is "respected and appreciated" by their foreign and domestic law enforcement, national security, and intelligence partners.
"That's the FBI I see," Wray said. "Now do we make mistakes? You bet we make mistakes. Just like everybody who is human makes mistakes. When we make mistakes, there are independent processes like the independent, outside inspector general that will drive and dive deep into the facts surrounding those mistakes. And when that independent fact finding is complete, we will hold our folks accountable if that's appropriate."
Asked by Jackson later in the hearing about what affect Trump's tweet had on officials in the bureau, Wray said FBI staffers "are big boys and girls" who "understand that we will take criticism from all corners."
"And we are accustomed to that," he said, adding, "My experience has been that our reputation is quite good."