Last August Congressman Goodlatte welcomed the Senate’s confirmation of Christopher Wray, President Trump’s choice to replace the fired James Comey as director of the FBI.
“He has a long and distinguished legal career, including serving as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division under President George W. Bush and Assistant U.S. Attorney in Georgia. Mr. Wray’s public and private sector service make him extremely well suited to lead the FBI…”
But with President Trump trying to undermine the special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign and administration, Goodlatte took a sharply different tone when Wray appeared Thursday as a witness before the Goodlatte-chaired House Judiciary Committee.
Republicans, led by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, questioned whether bias in favor of former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or against the president has crept into the high ranks of the FBI or Mueller’s probe. Republicans questioned whether bias affected a now-closed probe of Clinton’s use of a private email server.
“It does appear to me that, at the very least, the FBI’s reputation as an impartial, non-political agency has been called into question recently,” Goodlatte said.
Goodlatte cited Trump’s December 3 tweet that the FBI’s reputation is “in tatters” and he echoed Trump’s assertion of political bias against the president among investigators.
Republican criticism about Mueller’s probe intensified following a recent revelation that a top FBI agent assigned to the special counsel’s team allegedly sent anti-Trump texts last summer. Mueller removed the agent, Peter Strzok, after learning of the allegations.
Wray said the FBI is working with the Justice Department to review text messages allegedly sent between Strzok and other agents to determine if there is anything in them that’s improper.
There is no evidence that Strzok’s political views, or the views of any other investigators, influenced their work.
Goodlatte refuses to call hearings on anything related to potential wrongdoing by Trump, his campaign or his administration, while placing a higher priority on yet another investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
He thus continues his role as the president’s loyal defender. For how long? If Trump tries to cut off the investigation by firing Mueller, will Goodlatte will finally find the courage to stand up to him?