Consumed as we are by the latest Trumpster fire — Junior copping to collusion, the latest revelation that an ex-Soviet intel agent also attended Junior’s meeting, the disparate dots getting connected — it’s quite easy to forget that Trump’s pick for FBI director auditioned this week on Capitol Hill for a leading role in the ongoing psychodrama “House of Cons.”
But the good news — for those of us who yearn for institutional stability in these unstable times — is that Christopher Wray explicity declared that he will not become Trump’s toady. Not sure how Trump feels about it, but we can only hope Wray means it.
Lest we forget, James Comey lost his FBI gig because he refused to bow down to the tin crown, and Wray — a registered Republican — is cut from the same mold. During an earlier Justice Department stint, he worked closely with Comey. He also worked with Bob Mueller. Heck, way back when he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Georgia, he worked with Trump’s bête noire, Sally Yates. If what Wray said during his Senate testimony holds true, special counsel Mueller’s farflung criminal investigation of Trump and his minions will not be compromised.
“If I am given the honor of leading this agency, I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period. Full stop. My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law.”
“I view [Mueller] as the consummate straight shooter and somebody I have enormous respect for, and I would be pleased to do what I can to support him in this mission … I would consider an effort to tamper with [Mueller’s] investigation to be unacceptable and inappropriate, and to be dealt with sternly and appropriately indeed.”
“Nobody asked me for any kind of loyalty oath during this process, and I sure as heck wouldn’t give one if asked.”
Gotta love that last one. Trump has so debased governance, and threatened the integrity of our institutions, that an aspiring FBI director actually has to reassure us that he will eschew the Trump armband. But it was nice to hear it anyway — especially in light of Trump’s authoritarian decree to Comey: “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty.”
Trump blathered again this week about how the Russia probe is “the greatest witch hunt in political history” (as if he knows history), but Wray swatted aside that assessment: “I do not consider Director Muller to be on a witch hunt.” He also said, “Anyone who thinks I would be pulling punches as the director of the FBI sure doesn’t know me very well.” He also said he wasn’t a big fan of Donald Junior’s collusive quest for Russian dirt on Hillary: “Any threat or effort to interfere with our elections from any nation-state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”
Well. I’m getting a Watergate flashback (although the penetration of our election system by a hostile foreign power is way worse than Watergate). I can’t help but recall that after Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox, he wound up with special prosecutor Leon Jaworski, whom Nixon didn’t dare mess with.
It strains credulity to believe that Trump will try to abuse Wray the way he abused “nut job” Comey. But who knows. We’re stuck inside a psychodrama that routinely strains credulity.
Meanwhile, here’s a gem from the font of fake news, culled from his Paris news conference yesterday. When asked about Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Kremlin-connected lawyer who met with Donald Junior and other Trump insiders at the collusion meeting, Trump tried to blame Loretta Lynch — Obama’s attorney general. Take a gander how this guy’s mind works:
“Somebody said that her visa or her passport, to come into the country, was approved by Attorney General Lynch. Now, maybe that’s wrong. I just heard that a little while ago, but a little surprised to hear that. So, she was here because of Lynch.”
Somebody said … I just heard that … maybe that’s wrong … Then he decreed it was right.
Well, he got it all wrong. And we still await the day when he’ll take responsibility for anything.