Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Given the number of months they’d waited for the chance, the mood of conservative constituents, and the political temperature of the moment, it was hardly a surprise that House Republicans lit into FBI Director Chris Wray when he appeared on Capitol Hill this week.
From allegations of weaponizing the federal government against conservatives to the investigation of former President Donald Trump to the treatment of members of the Biden family to data mining, there were no complaints left unspoken by the right during Wray’s hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.
Jordan, one of the leading voices among conservatives concerned about the “weaponization” of the federal government, used his opening statement to rehash a litany of complaints that the FBI is central to what Republicans believe is a two-tiered justice system..
“In a survey last fall, four out of five Americans said they believe there’s a two-tiered system of justice in America today,” Jordan said. “They said that because there is. They said that because of what they’ve witnessed.”
Republican assertions were recently buttressed by a ruling in a federal court in Louisiana, a case in which the judge found that two conservative states were likely to prevail in their effort to prove, in court, that the Biden administration had “used its power to silence” critics online.
Wray denied such a system exists and attempted to ward off each attack from Republicans.
“The idea that I am biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me, given my own personal background,” Wray said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was, to say the least, unimpressed with Wray’s long-held position and asked the director if he or his agency were “protecting” the president.
Wray disagreed wholeheartedly, but Gaetz later took to the airwaves to accuse Wray of lying under oath.
“The Judiciary Committee should take action against Christopher Wray…he told verifiable lies,” Gaetz said on Fox News. “They have totally come untethered from the Constitution at the FBI and we must bring them to heel.”
GAETZ: "The Judiciary Committee should take action against Christopher Wray…he told verifiable lies. They have totally come untethered from the Constitution at the FBI and we must bring them to heel." https://t.co/j9WNnqyQW0
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) July 13, 2023
One of the few areas in which Wray conceded anything to Republicans came during his questioning by Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie, who asked about FBI partnerships with U.S. banks.
“The Bank of America … gave to the FBI gun purchase records … for anybody that was a Bank of America customer. Is that true?!” Massie asked.
Wray responded, “My understanding is that the institution in question shared information with us, as happens all the time.”
Later, on Twitter, Massie asserted, “FBI Director Wray admits the government has been working in conjunction with financial institutions like Bank of America to mine personal data such as gun purchase records for law abiding citizens, with no warrants or subpoenas involved.”
FBI Director Wray admits the government has been working in conjunction with financial institutions like Bank of America to mine personal data such as gun purchase records for law abiding citizens, with no warrants or subpoenas involved. pic.twitter.com/AxYAMQPYrt
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) July 12, 2023
The matter of social media censorship was also a topic of discussion. Louisiana Republican Rep. Mike Johnson, like Jordan, gave Wray a laundry list of complaints about anti-Trump/pro-Biden leanings in the FBI, but he concluded by issuing a warning to Wray about the aforementioned Lousiana federal court ruling.
“Let me tell you what the court concluded, because it should be the first thing you think about every morning and the last thing you think about at night,” Johnson said. “They said that, ‘The court found apparently the FBI engaged in a massive effort to suppress disfavored conservative speech and blatantly ignored the First Amendment right to free speech.’ The evidence shows the FBI threatened adverse consequences to social media companies if they did not comply with its censorship request.”
Wray insists that the FBI has worked with social media companies only inasmuch as it was necessary to combat foreign-based efforts to meddle in U.S. matters and that free speech was never under attack.
Not all of the hearing was bad for Wray. He found plenty of sympathy in committee Democrats.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member, accused Republicans of political theater.
“For Republicans, this hearing is little more than performance art,” Nadler said. “It is an elaborate show designed with only two purposes in mind: to protect Donald Trump from the consequences of his actions, and to return him to the White House in the next election.”