FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his workforce Wednesday before a House committee, where he faced hours of combative questioning by Republicans who accuse the agency of overzealously targeting their party. The appearance was Wray’s first before the House Judiciary Committee since Republicans took control and chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) launched an investigation of the “weaponization of the government against the American people,” reports the Wall Street Journal. Wray focused attention on the daily work of the bureau’s agents and analysts, who have seen an uptick in what the director called “despicable” threats as Republicans have stepped up their attacks. “The work the men and women of the FBI do to protect the American people goes way beyond the one or two investigations that seem to capture all the headlines,” Wray said.
Republicans, who once supported the bureau as the party of law and order, are now among its harshest critics. Democrats, historically more skeptical of law enforcement, have come to the FBI’s defense. Trump appointed Wray, a Republican, in 2017 after firing James Comey. “The idea that I’m biased against conservatives seems somewhat insane to me considering my own personal background,” Wray said. The panel’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, called Republicans’ questioning “little more than performance art” aimed at protecting Donald Trump. Republicans have criticized the indictment of Trump related to his postpresidential handling of classified materials. They have said the FBI’s warrant-backed search of Mar-a-Lago was overaggressive compared with the gentler approach they say it took to searches of President Biden’s office and home after classified documents were found there. On Wednesday, Wray said the FBI had probable cause to search Mar-a-Lago and that it took steps to make sure the action didn’t generate undue attention, with agents not wearing the so-called “raid jackets” they sometimes don during searches. “In my view, at least under my watch, we have one standard, and that is we’re going to pursue the facts wherever they lead no matter who likes it,” Wray said. “In sensitive investigations, almost by definition somebody’s not gonna like it.