Sailing through his confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, 50-year-old former Atty. Gen. Christopher Wray had to endure hazing from partisan questions insulting 71-year-old President Donald Trump. Forced to assume facts not in evidence, Wray was asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt) whether or not the president asked him for a “loyalty oath,” an unverified and disputed accusation made by 56-year-old former FBI Director James Comey. Comey was fired May 9 by Trump for “showboating,” “grandstanding” and incompetence in managing the email investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Leahy knows that it’s not proven that Trump asked Comey for as so-called “loyalty oath.” “No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn’t offer one,” Wray told Leahy.
Asking inane questions like that shows the extreme partisan nature of confirmation hearings, where Democrats and Republicans use the hearings to advance political agendas. Trump emphatically denied asking Comey for a “loyalty oath,” something so preposterous, so off-the-wall, so unthinkable that it defies imagination. Bringing it up, Leahy tried to rub in the spurious accusations that circulate in Democrat circles. Wasting his time grandstanding, Leahy asked Wray what he would do if President Trump asked him to commit a crime. If it were in court, objections would be raised and stricken from the jury. But political settings like confirmation hearings, partisan senators breach any protocol, any decency and dignity. “First, I would talk him out of it and, if that failed, I would resign,” Wray told Leahy, forced to play Leahy’s political gotcha game against Trump.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked Wray whether or not he thought Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian attorney was appropriate. When Wray deflected the question, Graham came back at him asked whether or not it’s appropriate for a foreign government to interfere with a U.S. election. Like Leahy, Graham too, one of Trump’s biggest GOP critics, likes to humiliate Trump whenever possible. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), another Trump critic, asked what he thought of Comey’s firing. Graham asked Wray to comment on Comey holding a press conference July 5, 2016 to comment on closing the Hillary email investigation, then make disparaging comments about the person who wasn’t charged. Wray deferred the question initially but admitted he wouldn’t do such a thing. Graham’s question got the closest answer yet as to why Comey deserved to be fired.
All the talk of loyalty oaths comes on the heels of Donald Trump Jr. releasing his emails of a meeting July 9, 2016 with his brother-in-law Jared Kushner and former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort and Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. Graham asked Wray what Trump Jr. should have done with information in a heated campaign coming potentially from a foreign government. Wray knows that Graham expects him to assume facts that are not in evidence, namely, that Veselnitskaya was in fact working for the Kremlin. Graham got Wray to agree in principle that anyone approached by the Russian government for information should contact the FBI, at the very least. Wray bristled at Graham’s unproven insinuation that Veselnitskaya worked for a foreign government. Speaking on Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Trump Jr. denied knowing Veselnitskaya worked for the Kremlin.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Feinstein, Leahy and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Il.), all conclude from a New York Times story that Trump Jr.’s June 9, 2016 with Veselnitskaya proved collusion with the Trump campaign beyond-a-reasonable doubt. After releasing all the emails, Trump Jr. admitted that music publicist Rob Goldstone arranged the meeting, suggesting Veselnitskaya had “sensitive” information on Hillary from the highest levels of the Russian government. Today’s New York Post editorial referred to Trump Jr. as an “idot” for believing such nonsense. Trump Jr. admitted the meeting was worthless, never following up on anything. Trump Jr. admitted to Hannity last night that he was open to any “opposition research” or dirt on Hillary. Yet Democrats on Capitol Hill and the mainstream press have already convicted Trump Jr. of treason, or at least collusion.
Meeting with the Senate Judiciary Committed today, Wray walked a dangerous tightrope wedged between Democrats and Republicans. Placating Republicans and Democrats, Wray answered all the right questions, proclaiming his independence from the White House. “I would consider any effort to tamper with Director Mueller’s investigation to be unacceptable and inappropriate, and it would need to be dealt with very sternly and appropriately indeed,” Wray told Feinstein, responding to Feinstein’s partisan hypothetical. Wading through partisan land mines from Democrats and Republicans, Wray handled himself well, guaranteeing his confirmation. Wray witnessed firsthand competing political agendas in Trump’s Russian probe. Wray showed patience and diplomacy dealing with grandstanding by Democrats and Republicans, giving him a taste of things to come.