WASHINGTON, July 12 (AP) — The FBI director will face some of his harshest criticism in Congress on Wednesday as he testifies before a House committee that is leading multiple investigations into allegations that law enforcement agencies unfairly targeted conservative.
FBI Director Chris Wray’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee is expected to be controversial. Republicans are poised to aggressively challenge the director on multiple fronts, including the recent indictment of former President Donald Trump, the ongoing investigation into President Joe Biden’s son and the push for a new FBI headquarters.
It’s just the latest manifestation of the new normal on Capitol Hill, as Republicans, who have long branded themselves police and “law and order” champions, are increasingly at odds with federal law enforcement and the FBI, accusing it of bias. Back to the investigations into Trump when he was president. The new dynamic has forced Democrats to take a new stance to defend the law enforcement agencies they have long criticized.
The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, has been laying the groundwork for Wray’s appearance since January, when the House Republicans secured a majority.
Republicans held hearings with former FBI agents, Twitter executives and federal officials to demonstrate that the FBI has been corruptly using its power against Trump and the right. They also set up a special Jordan-led government “weaponization” committee to investigate the abuses.
Just weeks before Wray’s visit to Capitol Hill, the president’s youngest son, Hunter Biden, reached a deal with the Justice Department to plead guilty to misdemeanor tax charges. Jordan and other Republican lawmakers slammed it as the latest example of a “sweetheart deal” and a “two-tier justice system.”
Jordan and the leaders of the Oversight and Accountability Committee and the Ways and Means Committee quickly launched a joint investigation into the Hunter Biden case, citing the testimony of two IRS whistleblowers who said the Justice Department interfered in their work.
The whistleblower’s claims have been questioned. The Justice Department has denied their allegations and has repeatedly said that the U.S. Attorney for Delaware, David Weiss, who is leading the investigation, has always had “full authority” in the case. Weiss was appointed to the position during the Trump administration.
Republicans have requested interviews with Weiss and other Justice Department officials, but under Justice Department policy they are unlikely to be interviewed until the case is closed.
Wray could also face questions about the allegations against Trump – the very man who nominated James Comey to lead the FBI after he fired James Comey in 2017. The Justice Department accused the former president of illegally storing government secrets at his Florida estate, but then refused to return them. Trump pleaded not guilty to 37 felony charges.
The FBI’s ongoing investigation into the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol is also a top concern for Republicans. Some said prosecutors had taken too aggressive action against those accused of breaking into the Capitol.
Some of the most conservative members of the party are even pushing to cut funding to the department entirely, as the GOP has sharpened its criticism of the FBI. Jordan has not yet done so, but he is seeking to stop funding for the new FBI headquarters.
In a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Kay Granger, Jordan wrote that the appropriations bill should eliminate any funds set aside for the planned relocation of the FBI headquarters from Washington, D.C., to the suburbs. Instead, he said Congress should consider moving the FBI headquarters out of the Washington area entirely.
“We also recommend tying FBI funding to specific policy changes — such as requiring the FBI to record interviews — that would promote accountability and transparency at the FBI,” Jordan wrote in Tuesday’s letter.
Another focus of Wednesday’s hearing will be a push to reauthorize a program under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which grants agencies such as the FBI broad powers to spy on and inspect aliens located outside the United States Communication.
Section 702 of FISA expires at the end of the year unless Congress agrees to renew it. But members of both parties have expressed frustration with the plan, citing news of federal officials abusing the system.
Regardless, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are preparing to push back Wednesday against Republicans’ rhetoric against the FBI, proving that Republican lawmakers are using Congress’ oversight powers to appease their constituents and party leaders.
“For Republicans, this hearing is nothing more than performance art. It is a show designed to serve only two purposes: to protect Donald Trump from the consequences of his actions, and to allow him to return to the White House in this election,” he is expected to say in his opening remarks. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a syndicated news feed, the latest staff may not have revised or edited the body of content)