Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, President Trump’s pick to replace fired FBI Director James Comey, Christopher Wray, told the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday he will act independently from the White House, if confirmed. Christopher Wray said no one had asked him for a loyalty oath, as Trump reportedly asked Comey to give. South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked Wray about Trump’s claim on Twitter Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Russia and Trump’s associates is “the greatest Witch Hunt in political history.”
Christopher Wray: “Well, Senator, I can’t speak to the basis for those comments. I can tell you that my experience with Director Mueller”—
Sen. Lindsey Graham: “I’m asking you, as the future FBI director, do you consider this endeavor a witch hunt?”
Christopher Wray: “I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt.”
Christopher Wray is a defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor who served as assistant attorney general under George W. Bush from 2003 to 2005, at a time when the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel signed off on the use of torture against detainees in CIA and military custody. At Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin asked Wray whether he approved a memo that retained a policy by then-Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee approving of waterboarding and other forms of torture.
Sen. Dick Durbin: “In a footnote, the memo indicates that under the new analysis, all of the torture techniques that were approved under the Bybee memo, like waterboarding, would still be legal under the new memo. In other words, nothing changed. And it says that expressly had the approval of your division. Do you recall reviewing and approving that memo?”
Christopher Wray: “I do not recall approving—reviewing and approving that memo.”
After the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Christopher Wray played a key role in the FBI PENTTBOM investigation, which saw more than 750 mostly Arab or Muslim men rounded up and detained under often harsh conditions.