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WH press secretary: Pres. Biden will keep Christopher Wray as FBI director

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Christopher Wray FBI director

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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Is the FBI ‘purging’ agents with Conservative views?

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On Thursday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan formally requested that the Justice Department’s Inspector General, Michael Horowitz, open an investigation into the FBI’s alleged use of political litmus tests to sideline or remove agents and employees with conservative viewpoints. This request also included a direct warning to FBI Director Christopher Wray about these practices.

Jordan’s action follows a report by Just the News detailing how an FBI security clearance review involved inquiries about an employee’s political beliefs. Specifically, the review asked whether the employee had expressed support for former President Donald Trump, attended a Second Amendment rally, or voiced skepticism about COVID-19 vaccines.

In a letter to Director Wray, Jordan expressed wrote, “The FBI appears to be purging itself of employees who do not share its preferred political views.” He emphasized the troubling nature of these practices, especially when they impinge on fundamental liberties and constitutional rights.

Speaking on the “John Solomon Reports” podcast, Jordan highlighted the severity of the situation: “Particularly when they’re asking about fundamental liberties, your constitutional rights, I mean, that is that is frightening stuff.” He further noted the retaliatory actions taken against whistleblowers who bring such issues to light, adding, “You put all that together, and you talk about politics driving what happens there.”

Jordan’s inquiry into the political weaponization of law enforcement has been ongoing, with a particular focus on the FBI’s conduct. In his communication with Inspector General Horowitz, Jordan underscored that the targeting of an employee’s political beliefs and First Amendment activities was deeply concerning and seemingly unrelated to legitimate security risk assessments. “These actions only serve to further erode the dwindling public trust in the FBI and reinforce the Committee and Select Subcommittee’s concerns about political bias within the FBI,” he wrote.

Jordan also referenced evidence uncovered by Judicial Watch, which suggested political retaliation against FBI whistleblowers aiding Congress. He pointed out that an FBI official allegedly disclosed nonpublic information about these whistleblowers to a Democrat member of the Select Subcommittee, ostensibly to discredit their testimonies about FBI misconduct. “It appears from the documents that the FBI sought to selectively disclose this nonpublic information so that it would be used to impugn the credibility of the whistleblowers,” Jordan stated.

In his separate letter to Wray, Jordan questioned the relevance of political viewpoints to security clearance determinations. He argued that while assessing the legality of employees’ actions is legitimate, questions about political beliefs are “completely irrelevant to any legitimate security risk determination” and infringe upon First Amendment rights.

Following the release of internal FBI memos showing that bureau officials had inquired about an employee’s support for Trump, stance on COVID-19 vaccines, and participation in a Second Amendment rally, concerns about political bias have intensified. These memos indicated that the employee’s security clearance was revoked months after confirming his conservative views and vaccine skepticism.

Tristan Leavitt, the lawyer representing the affected FBI employee, commended the congressional oversight, stating, “It’s good to see Congress holding the FBI’s feet to the fire.” He emphasized the need for a thorough investigation into how these questions were used to justify purging conservative employees from the FBI.

 Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton echoed this sentiment on the “Just the News, No Noise” TV show, predicting that the FBI would attempt to deflect criticism despite clear evidence of misconduct. “I’m sure we’ll get some distraction and noise from Chris Wray and a reaffirmation that the FBI never does anything wrong, even when it’s caught red-handed,” Fitton remarked.

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