‘It’s Just Wrong!’: Sen. Whitehouse Lays Into Wray Over Stonewalling on Questions

FBI Director Christopher Wray is facing questions about the agency’s apparent failure to respond to questions from lawmakers while allegedly prioritizing providing information to Republicans.

During a hearing on Tuesday regarding the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) asked Wray if he was aware of how many questions for the record the FBI “failed to answer” over the last four years.

“I do not,” Wray responded.

Whitehouse proceeded to note that Senate Judiciary Committee held nine hearings “in which the FBI was a witness and in seven of them the committee got exactly zero questions for the record.”

He asked, “Seven… zero questions. Can you explain that?”

Wray responded, “I cannot.”

The FBI director continued to explain that there is an “elaborate interagency process” regarding how the FBI answers questions.

Whitehouse fired back as he argued the process is “immensely convenient for the executive branch” as it appeared Wray was pointing to the process as the reason for a lack of answers to lawmakers’ questions.

“It seems to me that when the FBI wanted to get information to this committee — particularly when it wanted to get information to Republican members of this committee so they could investigate your investigation of the Trump-Russia connection — that information got right through to our Republican colleagues. It didn’t seem to go through any interagency process, it wasn’t delayed,” he charged.

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The Rhode Island senator continued to note that lawmakers’ questions go through a “rigamarole.” However, he argued that when Republicans ask for information related to their investigations “there seems to be a little side road that gets built around the traffic jam and stuff just flies right through.”

“So, please don’t tell me about interagency process when I’ve been sitting in this committee watching FBI information get straight to this committee without interagency process.”

He asked, “What are we going to do about this? Is this a problem?”

Wray responded by explaining he had hired more staff and that he believed that had helped speed up the process for answer questions. 

However, Whitehouse noted that there are questions from 2017 that have not been answered.

While Wray said he would commit to improving the process, Whitehouse vowed he ensure that the process is fixed.

“I will commit to you that I’m going to make sure that this gets done. And if it means stopping nominees, if it means doing whatever it takes to get through this problem, we’re going to get through this problem. Because it is just plain wrong for the executive branch of government in a separation of powers country to refuse to answer questions of the elected representatives of the legislative branch. It’s just wrong!”

Wray sought to defend his actions as he vowed his “responsiveness to this committee” is not based on partisan politics.

However, Whitehouse shot back, “Well you run an organization that seems to have operated under very different rules. And it was you running that organization, so let’s not make these distinctions right now.”