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FBI Director Pick Christopher Wray Testifies in Senate Judiciary Hearing

13 July 2017, 12:42 | Nina Hammond

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Wray, 50, is a former top official in the George W. Bush administration's Justice Department.

Wray says simply, "I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt".

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray pledged to retain the independence of the agency and ensure it remains above the partisan fray, which was expected to be a key line of questioning during the hearing.

That is because these are not normal times and Donald Trump is not a normal president.

"The FBI is one of the most powerful tools available to the president, and from what we've seen from the White House, they may be expecting your loyalty as the president did with Director Comey", said Sen.

"And in fact when I made a decision to just do it I said to myself, I said, 'You know, this Russian Federation thing with Trump and Russian Federation is a made-up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won, '" Trump told Holt.

That's what senators were waiting to hear. Wray also represented New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in a political scandal. Questioned by Senator Dianne Feinstein about Mueller's investigation, Wray said he was committed to supporting the investigation in "whatever way is appropriate for me".

"I would consider an effort to tamper with Director Mueller's investigation to be unacceptable and inappropriate and would need to be dealt with very sternly and appropriately, indeed", Wray said. "And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act". R-Iowa, has said he hopes to have Wray confirmed by the Senate's August recess.

When the president met with Russian officials at the White House in May, he said that firing Comey - whom he called "a real nut job" - had relieved "great pressure" on him.

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The emails showed the Republican president's son agreeing past year to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic White House rival Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow's official support for his father.

Wray hedged, saying he was unfamiliar with the emails, so he wasn't in a position to speak to it.

Graham asked whether the president had the authority to oust Mueller - being that he acknowledged removing Comey in an effort to derail the Russian probe.

"I have no reasons to doubt the conclusion of the intelligence committee", Wray responded.

Mr Wray obliged, telling the committee: "Any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation-state, or any non state actor, is the kind of thing the Federal Bureau of Investigation would want to know".

Wray has a history of taking on politically tough assignments.

He served the government at a time when harsh interrogation techniques were approved within the Justice Department for terror suspects captured overseas, although Mr Wray said he was never involved in signing off on those methods. Wray already has signed an ethics agreement with the Justice Department.

And, perhaps most importantly, he said he'd resign if asked by the president to do anything "illegal, unconstitutional or even morally repugnant".

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