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At Halfway Point in Term, FBI's Wray Faces Rising Criticism

Chris Way reached the halfway mark of his ten-year term as FBI director being personally targeted by Make America Great Again Donald Trump supporters and a world of violent threats. Chosen as James Comey's replacement, Wray is facing pushback from Republicans who criticize his agency harshly, Politico reports. Three days after FBI agents traveled to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate and executed a search warrant, an armed man named Ricky Shiffer tried to break into the bureau’s Cincinnati office. He was killed after a standoff. That same day, Wray sent an email to bureau employees acknowledging their safety as his number one concern. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security sent out an intelligence bulletin warning that the Mar-a-Lago search was being met with growing threats to law enforcement. A passage from the document marked "For Official Use Only" said “future law enforcement or legal actions against individuals associated with the Palm Beach search” could “escalate the threat environment.”

Wray and his fellow FBI personnel are noted for their conciseness. Those who have worked closely with him say he likes to go into meetings with a clear agenda and then “listen-and-analyze” the ensuing debate and conversation. There have been exceptions. Wray took a hands-on approach in high-level Justice Department conversations in 2020 about reauthorizing provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law that governs U.S. electronic surveillance. It was criticized by civil liberties advocates because of how it results in covert surveillance of Americans. The criticisms increased after a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general found a host of problems in how the FBI used the law to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser, which happened before Wray arrived. Trump loyalists believe that Democratic partisans have weaponized law enforcement to target the right, while giving a pass to their allies. Wray is a key focus of their grievances. If the House flips to Republican control, Wray and the FBI will face further scrutiny. A Republican Senate aide said some members of the GOP conference have discussed the importance of not attacking Wray because of concerns about harming FBI agents’ morale. The view is that supporting law enforcement means supporting all law enforcement, including the FBI.


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