FBI Director Nominee Says He Was Not Asked for Loyalty Oath

(Bloomberg) — The federal investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election that Donald Trump frequently dismisses as a “witch hunt” got a key endorsement Wednesday, from the president’s own pick to lead the FBI.

Former Justice Department official Christopher Wray told senators at his confirmation hearing that special counsel Robert Mueller, the head of the probe that’s now touching the president’s oldest son and son-in-law, is a “consummate straight shooter.” Pressed to directly address ’s criticisms, Wray added, “I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt.”

Wray’s answers won him bipartisan support to lead the . His vows to pursue investigations regardless of political pressure, while standard, took on added significance as lawmakers digested news that Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner met with a Russian lawyer during last year’s campaign, contradicting repeated administration denials about election-year meetings with Russians.

“I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period. Full stop,” Wray, 50, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The committee took up Wray’s nomination in the wake of Trump’s abrupt firing of James Comey in May. Comey said his firing came after Trump repeatedly asked for his loyalty and suggested the FBI drop an investigation into Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser.

Under questioning from Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy, Wray said “No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn’t offer one.”

While Mueller, a former FBI director, leads the probe into whether Trump or any of his associates colluded with Russia to meddle in last year’s election, Wray would oversee the FBI agents aiding in that effort.

Pressed on what he would do if Trump asked him to do something he viewed as unlawful, Wray responded, “First I would try and talk him out of it and if that failed, I would resign.”

“I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period. Full stop,” Wray, 50, told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“It’s vitally important for the FBI Director to be independent,” Republican committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa said in his opening remarks. Speaking of Wray, Grassley said, “He’s prosecuted folks on both sides of the political spectrum, including folks working on a Republican campaign.”

 

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