UPDATE: FBI chief says President Trump hasn't asked for loyalty

Photo: PBS
By  | 

WASHINGTON (AP) — 10:50 p.m.

FBI Director Chris Wray says President Donald Trump has never gone outside the chain of command to communicate with him directly, and has never asked him to pledge his loyalty to him.

Wray also says Trump has not spoken to him about special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into potential coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Former FBI Director James Comey has said that Trump asked him for his loyalty and spoke to him one-on-one multiple times.

Comey has said that during one of those private conversations, Trump told him he hoped he'd consider ending an FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian diplomat.

___

10:45 a.m.

FBI Director Christopher Wray is giving an impassioned defense of his agency against blistering attacks from President Donald Trump.

During a Thursday hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Wray was asked to respond to Trump's weekend tweets calling the FBI a biased institution whose reputation is in "tatters."

Wray says, "The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women working as hard as they can to keep people they will never know safe from harm."

He says the bureau's agents and analysts are "decent people committed to the highest principals of integrity and professionalism and respect." And he says the agency is respected by its law enforcement partners.

It is Wray's strongest defense yet of the agency he has led for four months.

___

10:35 a.m.

FBI Director Chris Wray is defending his law enforcement agency amid persistent criticism from President Donald Trump.

Wray testified Thursday that "there is no finer institution than the FBI, and no finer people than the men and women who work there and are its very beating heart."

Wray spoke during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.

The comments come days after Trump took to Twitter to slam the FBI as a biased institution whose reputation is in "tatters."

___

10:30 a.m.

A Republican lawmaker is worried about what he calls political bias in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte (GUD'-lat) of Virginia chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Goodlatte is responding to revelations that an FBI agent was removed from Mueller's team because of anti-Trump texts.

At a Thursday hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Goodlatte says, "It is absolutely unacceptable for FBI employees to permit their own political predilections to contaminate any investigation."

He says even the appearance of impropriety will "devastate the FBI's reputation."

President Donald Trump recently criticized the FBI on Twitter as a biased institution whose reputation is in "tatters."

___

3:42 a.m.

Christopher Wray faces a tough test four months into his leadership of the FBI: He must defend America's top law enforcement agency against blistering attacks from President Donald Trump without putting his own job at risk.

The competing pressures Wray faces will be on display Thursday when he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats may push him to respond forcefully to Trump's weekend tweets calling the FBI a biased agency whose reputation is "in Tatters — worst in History!" and urging Wray to "clean house."

Some Republicans will likely echo Trump's concerns about what they see as political bias in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Like Trump, they have seized on revelations that an FBI agent was removed from Mueller's team because of anti-Trump text messages.