After the raid at former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, the FBI director and his agents have received an increase in violent threats.
In the wake of the raid, threats were made against FBI agents and the Department of Justice (DOJ), prompting FBI Director Christopher Wray to label them “deplorable and dangerous” on Wednesday.
At a press conference in Omaha, Nebraska, Wray said, “I’m always concerned about threats to law enforcement.” No matter who you have a grudge against, resorting to violence against law enforcement is never justified.
Attorney General Merrick Garland, appointed by President Joe Biden, has been accused by many of Trump’s supporters and allies of politicizing federal law enforcement agencies. Although Trump appointed Wray that same year.
Wray, a Republican and Federalist Society member, got his start in government as an assistant U.S. attorney in Georgia before joining the Justice Department in 2001.
Two years later, then-President George W. Bush nominated him to be assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s criminal division, where he worked under James Comey, who is now the director of the FBI. Following the resignation of James Comey, the position of FBI director was offered to Christopher Wray.
Wray left the Department of Justice in 2005 and has been a private attorney ever since. In the midst of the so-called Bridgegate political scandal, in which members of former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s staff were accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, he served as Christie’s personal attorney.
When Comey resigned on May 9, 2017, Trump said he would nominate Christopher Wray to be the next FBI director on June 7. On August 1 of that year, with bipartisan support from senators, Wray was confirmed to his current post and was subsequently sworn in on September 28. Trump’s absence from the swearing-in ceremony marked a historic first: the president who nominated the FBI director was not present for the ceremony.
Despite Trump’s nomination of Wray, tensions have arisen between the two men.
Wray was questioned in December 2019 about the inspector general’s report, which concluded that the FBI’s investigation into Russia was properly initiated. On Twitter, Trump responded to Wray’s remarks by saying that the FBI is “badly broken” despite employing “some of the greatest men & women in the world.”
During the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, the two also had different opinions on antifa.
In September of 2020, during a Senate hearing, Wray declared antifa to be “definitely not a club or a union. Whether you call it a movement or an ideology, “to refute Trump’s claims that Antifa would be labeled a terrorist group in the United States.
Wray dismissed the Republican Party’s contention that antifa instigated the January 6 riot in the Capitol last year.
After Trump’s attorney general, Bill Barr, threatened to resign if Wray was removed, Business Insider reported that Trump considered replacing Wray in April of 2020 with William Evanina, a fierce critic of the Russia probe.
The FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) released a letter ahead of the 2020 election urging Trump and Biden to re-appoint Wray as director for the remainder of the current 10-year term.
On behalf of the FBI’s 14,000 active and retired agents, FBIAA President Brian O’Hare wrote, “Director Wray operates independently from partisan activities, and his nomination and acceptance of the position were predicated on that fact.” He hasn’t run the FBI like a political operation, so his fate as director shouldn’t be decided by party affiliation.
O’Hare told Trump and Biden that while the President has the power to fire the FBI Director, doing so could cause instability and damage to the Bureau’s operations, which is why Congress intended to insulate the position of Director from political whims.
Wray was confirmed to remain FBI director by Biden’s transition team in December of 2020.
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