FBI Director Christopher Wray dodged questions Tuesday about his involvment in a Trump-era leak investigation where the Department of Justice secretly went after top Congressional Democrats’ Apple data.
Testifying in front of the House Oversight Committee, Wray was asked by Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, if he had heard about the investigation and the subpoenas.
‘I’ve been reading about them in the press, yes,’ Wray answered.
FBI Director Christopher Wray dodged questions Tuesday about his involvment in a Trump-era leak investigation where the Department of Justice secretly went after top Congressional Democrats’ Apple data
Wray was probed by Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi on the FBI’s involvement in the leak investigation and whether Wray discussed secret subpoenas with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions
During his presidency, former President Donald Trump wanted to sniff out government officials who were leaking to the press, as his White House was plagued by embarrassing media reports.
Last week the news broke that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed Apple for metadata from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was then the top Democrat on the GOP-controlled committee, which was investigating Trump’s ties to Russia.
Another top Democratic Intelligence committee member, Rep. Eric Swalwell, was also targeted.
As were there family members and staff.
Journalists’ records and White House counsel Don McGahn and his wife’s Apple data were also sought.
At the hearing, Krishnamoorthi said to Wray that CNN had reported that the leak investigation began when the DOJ sent Apple a subpoena for records in 2018.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff was one of the Congressional Democrats targeted in the investigation, with the DOJ secretly asking Apple for his data
Rep. Eric Swalwell, who also serves on the House Intelligence Committee, was also targeted in the Trump-era probe
Wray, a Trump appointee, took over the top FBI job in 2017.
The congressman asked Wray if he disputed CNN’s reporting.
‘I really can’t discuss this specific investigation,’ Wray said. ‘I really don’t want to get out in front of the Justice Department on this and decisions about subpoenas are really just best directed to them.’
Krishnamoorthi continued on, asking Wray if the FBI interviewed witnesses as part of the leak investigation, as news reports said.
‘Again, sir, I really can’t discuss any specific investigation,’ Wray said.
Krishnamoorthi pushed back saying he wasn’t asking Wray about ‘specifics,’ but whether the FBI was involved.
‘When there are leak investigations typically the FBI is the investigative agency,’ Wray answered.
Krishnamoorthi replied, ‘good, that’s what we thought.’
He went on to ask Wray if he discussed the Apple subpoenas with then Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
‘Congressman, I understand the question. I really don’t want to get out [in front] of the Justice Department on this, as you know the attorney general …,’ Wray replied.
Krishnamoorthi cut him off.
‘Sir you’re just being asked a simple yes or no question,’ the congressman said. ‘Did you discuss the leak investigation with Jeff Sessions?’
‘Congressman again, respectfully, I’m not trying to be difficult here, but the inspector general has been asked to look into this,’ Wray answered, adding that he has a ‘good working relationship’ with the IG of the Department of Justice.
Krishnamoorthi told Wray, ‘Sir, you are being evasive.’
‘These are yes or no questions, sir. You’re under oath. These are yes or no simple questions that we need to get to the bottom of,’ the Illinois Democrat said.
‘Sir, serving these secret subpoenas to collect records on members of Congress is something we’d expect in Putin’s Russia, not the United States, and your involvment needs to be probed just like everyone else’s,’ Krishnamoorthi said, concluding his Q&A time at the hearing.
Top Congressional Democrats have demanded that Sessions and his successor, former Attorney General Bill Barr, testify before Congress on the matter.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the body’s to Republican, knocked Democrats for ‘picking at the scab of politically-motivated investigations,’ by probing the seizures on Capitol Hill.
Attorney General Merrick Garland already referred the matter to the Justice Department’s inspector general, which McConnell said was the appropriate venue for any probe.