White house press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed Thursday that President Joe Biden will keep Christopher Wray as director of the FBI and that he has confidence in Wray after she declined to say Wednesday if the new president intended to keep him in the role and if he had confidence in Wray.
“I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing,” Psaki tweeted Thursday afternoon.
When asked at a Wednesday evening press briefing if Wray would stay at the top of the FBI, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to answer. She also did not provide a direct answer to the question of if Biden has confidence in Wray. That evening, she told reporters she had not spoken with Biden about Wray specifically “in recent days.”
Her Wednesday evening comments spurred a flurry of reports from multiple outlets early on Thursday, with a variety sources telling them that Biden will keep Wray as FBI director.
Back in December, The New York Times had reported that Biden planned to keep Wray in the role.
Currently, the FBI is investigating the deadly January 6 riot at the Capitol. Over 100 people so far have received federal charges and dozens have been arrested in connection to the storming of the U.S. Capitol the same day Congress tallied the Electoral College votes and certified Biden’s victory, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. This past week, a Justice Department official said that there are over 300 open FBI investigations.
MORE ON THE CAPITOL RIOT: Prosecutors: ‘strong evidence’ shows Capitol rioters sought to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials
Wray was nominated to the role of FBI director in June 2017 after then-President Donald Trump the previous month had fired former FBI Director James Comey, who had been spearheading investigations into now-debunked links between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia. FBI directors serve 10-year terms.
Trump’s firing of Comey resulted in Robert Mueller being appointed as special counsel.
Wray broke with the former president early on in his tenure. In July 2017, Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not believe Mueller’s probe was a “witch hunt,” in contradiction to what Trump had routinely alleged.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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MD nuclear scientist, wife, face life in prison after pleading guilty in nuclear secrets case
A Maryland couple has pleaded guilty for the second time in federal court on Tuesday for attempting to sell nuclear secrets to a foreign power. Jonathan Toebbe, 42, a nuclear scientist and his wife, Diana, a former humanities teacher at a private school, were first arrested and charged ini October.
Their first plea deal was rejected by a judge who said their sentences were too lenient. Tuesday, the Maryland couple pleaded guilty to one felony count each of conspiracy to communicate restricted data.
“Last month, U.S. District Judge Gina Groh rejected their first plea, saying the punishment did not fit the crime. Jonathan’s attorneys had called for a sentencing range between 12 years and 17.5 years, while his wife would get three years” reports the Washington Examiner.
The new plea agreement, brought before another judge, could result in the couple facing a maximum of life in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The Washington Examiner writes of the case:
Jonathan, who worked for the U.S. Navy, used his top-level security clearance to smuggle out design secrets of Virginia-class submarines to someone he thought was working for an undisclosed foreign entity but who was in reality an undercover FBI agent.
Jonathan communicated with the agent using an encrypted email service and did document drops in Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. He would download the classified material he smuggled out onto SD cards, often hiding them in peanut butter sandwiches while his wife was on the lookout.
The couple was first arrested after one of these drops in Jefferson County, West Virginia. Shockingly, the Justice Department said Jonathan’s top-secret security clearance was renewed just days before he mailed the first package. He had worked for the “Nuclear Reactors” program since 2012.
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