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tv   Senate Debate on FBI Director Confirmation  CSPAN  August 1, 2017 10:09pm-10:43pm EDT

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question i get, what do you suppose that is? what do we do about it? we have been teaching the constitution properly for the last 150 years we would know what to do. the senate has confirmed christopher wray to be fbi director in a 92-50. mr. wray is an attorney who previously worked worked as assistant attorney general charge of the justice department's criminal division. here is part of the senate debate on his nomination beginning with democrats richard
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blumenthal. this is a half-hour. >> mr. president i know that later about noon we are likely to proceed to the nomination of christopher wray and i'm proud to support him as i was during the judiciary committee as did every other member of the judiciary committee. i think quite simply he is a professional as non-politically associated as anyone can be going into the position and like the fbi itself known for his independence and integrity. there are two qualities needed in the fbi and its director and that his independence and integrity. the fbi is one of the world's most important law enforcementa,
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agencies and certainly one of the most important in this country. the fbi director doesn't serve at the pleasure of the president alone. he has a 10 year term and the fbi director does not serve the he served the constitution and the people of the united states. he must be independent ofre political interference and his integrity or hers must beve unquestioned. the fbi deserves a leader with the integrity and strength necessary for that solemn mission. mr. wray in my view has shown himself to be that kind of leader. bef some colleagues are especially important because never before has the rule of law and our law
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enforcement institutions been so threatened by political interference and it begins at the very top. the reason that christopher wray has been nominated to serve as fbi or is that the vacancy was fi created by the leaving of jim comey for reasons that have led an aspect of the ongoing investigation by the special pos counsel. the reason that position is vacant is because treatments ago jim comey was fired by the b president because of quote thesi russia thing. the russia thing was very much on the president's mind, more so than any of the reasons given in the memo done by attorney general sessions in deputy r
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attorney rod rosensteinac according to the presidentussia himself. the russia thing is the fbi in the special counsel investigation into whether the trump campaign colluded with the russian government to influence our elections. there is no question that there was a campaign of interference and meddling through cyberattacks, misinformation,, there's no question that the russians will do it again unless they are made to pay a price and others may well collude with them. unless they are compelled to pae a price. we have only to look at the headlines to see how
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far-reaching and significant this specification may be. the news that the president himself wrote a statement to be issued in the name of his son about a meeting with the russians that promised dirt on hillary clinton and directly misled about that meeting, so what is at stake? the misleading words put into the president's sons memo by donald trump himself are potential pieces of evidencevide relating to criminal intent that the special counsel is assembling. that mosaic. they are not alone and a report today if true certainly describes a pattern of conduct,
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pieces of a pattern that fit together into a mosaic providing evidence of intent concerning potential obstruction of justice in so the likelihood of threat is increasing. the threat of politicalerferenc interference, the threat ofg firing bob mueller, the threat that the attorney general jeff sessions may be used as a vehicle to lead to bob mueller's firing. even before jim comey's dismissal i called for an i was at the department of justice. in fact i was the only member of the judiciary committee to vote against rod rosenstein's mom -- nomination as deputy attorney general because he failed toit commit to appoint a special prosecutor. i believe a special prosecutor
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was necessary not only to determine the full extent of russia's meddling in ourro democracy but also to protect that investigation from the president's efforts to shut it down. this belief was brought intoim stark relief by jim comey's firing and is precipitated the appointment of bob mueller. the firing of special counsel mohler would precipitate a the firestorm on both sides of the aisle. he would put the president over a precipice that likely could lead to the most drastic action possible in this democracy. that precipice can be avoided.
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congress must play a role in avoiding it. we are in talks across the aisle about action that can be taken to provide a check and a firewall against that kind of firing, drastic action that would put the president over p that precipice politically, morally and legally. my hope is also the new chief of staff, general kelly, will add a voice of reason and wisdom perhaps to check some of the more rational impulsive action that i'd otherwise be taken by the president. the special counsel was given a clear mandate to follow the may evidence wherever it may lead and i believe special counsel gs
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mohler has the guts and back on as well as the expertise to uncover the truth, to follow that evidence, to bring charges if they are appropriate and necessary, if he is assured the resources and independence to do the job and that's why christopher wray's nomination is a critically important. he will be at key decision-maker in providing those resources, that are necessary to do the legwork and a review of documents and other hard work challenging work that is necessary for the special counsel to have the facts and the evidence. t via ti director is critically important in ensuring the
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independence of the special counsel as an ally and a source of support the fbi director will be critical. the most important priority in fact for christopher wray will be to protect the independence and integrity of that special counsel investigation just as we must protect the fbi because they are intertwined and identified at the core. they involve the rule of law the essence of our democracy. that we trust the wrongdoing will be investigated and prosecuted no matter how powerful the target, no matter how wealthy or powerful the --in
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in that investigation has expanded appropriately to include financial feeling -- feelings on the part of theat is person of an estate in the attempt by the president to set limits on that investigation are inappropriate and potentially illegal and further effort of criminal intent. the mandate in short for both director raid and special counsel mohler must be be unconditional. there must be no limit set by political interference. today the nominee that we vote to confirm today must sustain insecure that ongoingm independent investigation from any interference no matter howlg powerful including the president of the united states
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no one can set limits because no one is above the law and the special counsel must have the freedom to decide where the investigation will lead because he will follow the facts to where they lead. the fbi or has a broad and inclusive mandate in addition to protect king the united states against corruption and wrongdoing involving abuse ofo power. he must also protect the united states against terrorism and foreign he is charged with providing leadership services to state federal and municipal agencies and partners and he is and responsible for protecting civil rights.
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on friday, july 28, 2017 president trump game a gave a speech in brownwood new york ant effect encouraging law enforcement to use or misuse excessive force. more spezza luke kuechly hend directed law enforcement not to be quote too nice end quote and he described graphically how officers should potentiallyrress allow arrestees to be banged on the head or otherwise mistreated with his comments president trump encouraged the worst instincts of our law enforcers, the instincts of the small minute minority but still a
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faction of law enforcement that the vast majority is seeking toe stop and any misuse of authoritg i will be joining with colleagues and working with the very distinguished senior senator of cal warn you who has joined us on the floor and asking that our law enforcement leadership take action to express its disapproval of that kind of misconduct and my hope is that specifically the department of justice will express its disapproval of such instincts and misconduct.o the fbi has a special obligation to condemn such violations of fraud and i hope that the new director, mr. wray will join
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dozens of law enforcement leaders across the country in understanding that it has no place in the ti and i believe christopher wray has the ability and expertise to lead the fbi in that effort as well as protecting the special counsel. based on his career and his testimony before the judiciary committee, i believe he will bring that leadership to the fbi i regret that he will be the fbi director only because it is then result of an abusive and improper finding of james comeyi and the special counsel investigation of that firing ana
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they potential of sharks and that justice is well warranted and i know mr. wray will do everything possible to enable it to be fair and effective, comprehensive and thorough. he will help the special counsel just as he will help prosecutors and law enforcement agenciesrc across the country to do justice the future of the fbi and our pe nation are truly at stake. thank you mr. president. i yield the floor. >> mr. president. >> the senator from california. >> thank you. i want to thank the distinguished senator fromd like connecticut or his remarks and i'd like to make a few remarks with respect to my position as ranking member on the judiciary committee. as it's been well described t shortly we will vote on the nomination of christopher wray
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to be the next direct her of the federal bureau of investigation. the judiciary committee has reviewed his record and held a full and complete hearing. his nomination was sent to the floor for consideration by a vote of 20-0. i am very satisfied that mr. wray has the qualifications and independence necessary to. leave the fbi so i will support his nomination to be fbi director. i want to begin by saying a few words about after 24 years in this place what is necessary going forward. first it is really important that we have base from b. i direct your. there can be no manipulation.ns secondly special counsel robert mueller must be allowed to proceed with his investigation
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undisturbed. m third, the fbi director must manage and speak for the fbi on the basis of the constitution and the laws of the united states not that big dates or requests or statements of any politically elected person in this country. fourth, the fbi director must be independent from the white house from any political figure. this is what the fbi and the american people need now. the fbi as you and i know it's a critically important law enforcement agency. it must be able to move forward with its work and with its senior leadership in place. as i have noted a mr. wray's hearing and just noted again the fbi must be an independent blonde foursome and organization free from political influence.
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during his hearing and in his written responses to follow-up questions mr. wray stated that the fbi director must maintain strict independence, be committed to doing the job by the book. these are quotes and quote without regard to any partisan political influence. he also testified that his loyalties to the constitution into the rule of law, not any pe individual including thef president and he was believable to all of us in those statements. mr. wray also testified that he would resist any effort to interfere with the fbi investigation said that he would not quote pull any punches. when asked what he would do if the president asked him to do something unlawful or unethical,
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mr. wray replied he would first try to talk him out of it and if that failed he would resign. these commitments are important, especially at this moment in history. we need an fbi director who has the strength and fortitude to stand up and do what's right by the law when tested. mr. wray has received bipartisan support for more than a 100 former united states attorneys who enthusiastically endorsed his nomination and state their belief that mr. wray and i "from their letter is a strong and effective leader with unassailable integrity, judgment and courage. according to this group which included former bush administration justice department officials like larry thompson and ken wainstein as
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well as eric holder and sally ya yates, mr. ray was discharged the duties of the b. i direct your and i quote with honor and a tireless commitment to the rule of law and quote. earlier this year when we considered other nominees for the justice department i pointed out that we need leaders with steel spines, not weak knees. i believe that mr. wray will be such a leader. now the issue of torture is very important to me and on this issue i was encouraged by mr. wray's acknowledgment thatil torture is wrong, unacceptable, illegal and ineffective. he testified under oath that he did not participate in the drafting of the so-called
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torture memo issued by the office of legal counsel some time ago. mr. wray is further testified that interrogation techniques ta such as waterboarding, painful stress positions, threatening detainees with dogs, forced nudity and mock executions are quote abusive under all circumstances and quote. importantly for me, he haser committed that the fbi after his leadership will never engage inr such tech makes for other forms of torture and that it will adhere to the policy of using the informed interrogation approach outlined in the army field manual which thanks to john mccain was added as a new law to last year's military authorization bill.ate
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mr. wray also committed that he will read the senateom intelligence committee's report on cia's detention and interrogation program under a former administration. on the issue of torture, as well as his independence and integrity i take mr. ray at his word. as we discuss when mr. wray andi i met in my office i believe that the next fbi director's independence, integrity andnt commitment to the rule of lawy sadly will likely be tested by this administration. one early test may come in relation to the investigations being conducted by special counsel mueller. this committee and other committees in congress. mr. wray has committed to supporting and protecting the investigation being conducted by
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special counsel mueller and i trust that mr. wray will keep the judiciary committee of our house informed of any attempt to interfere with thatob investigation. now he has got a tough job ahead of him. the fbi is our premier law enforcement agencies. it faces new criminal terrorism threats every day. i remember fbi director cockney telling us that the fbi had a counterterrorism investigation going on in virtually every state in the union. that was last year but i assume many are still going on. on top of that, his predecessor was as we all know suddenly fired by the president for reasons that are questionable and that is the subject of ongoing investigations. lately we have seen the president attempt to bully his own attorney general but even in
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the light of these challenging circumstances i believe mr. wray is up to the task. based on this testimony and the commitments he has made to me judiciary committee, i believe we will all vote on the committee to support his nomination. if he is confirmed i commit to working with him to sip port the fbi, its mission and the 30 plus thousand fbi agents and employees who work every day to help protect our nation.ry thank you very much mr. chairman. i yield the floor. >> the senator from iowa. >> i think the senator from california for her fine remarks' on mr. wray and i'm here are the same reason she is and i thankng
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her for also facilitating getting this to the committee in a very quick way. thank you. i'm pleased to support the nomination of christopher wray to be director of the fbi. mr. wray possesses the skills, the character and the unwavering commitment to impartial enforcement of the law, what we need is met the eye director.ary based on a unanimous vote that mr. wray receipt from the judiciary committee i'm confident that i colleagues believe this as well. mr. wray has an accomplished record as a lawyer. he was a federal prosecutor for a number of years and went on to serve in various senior roles at divi including leading the criminal division at the department.
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mr. wray earned the department'b highest award for public service and leadership. his prior record of service demonstrates his competence and leading within the federal government and demonstrates that he will be able to lead effectively at the fbi. he has shown that he has the expertise needed to address the wide range of policy issues currently facing the fbi. of course my colleagues and i asked mr. wray about his positions on many such issues during his hearing. he answered those questions vert well but the most important thing that we wanted to learn from him had to do with his view of the job and where his loyalties lie. as all of us in this body no, when we take the oath of office
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we affirm that we will support and defend the constitution of the united states. we don't pledge support to any member of the government or even to a poetical party. we pledge our loyalty to the constitution and to the rule of law. many members as mr. wray very pointed questions about loyalty during his hearing. i was impressed with his candi plainspoken candid answers and i take him at his word when he his says it is quote loyalty to the constitution and to the rule of law and that quote and when he says that he will, further quoting, never allow the fbi's e work to be driven by any other than the facts, the law and the
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impartial pursuit of justice period, end of quote.nto t now if he is confirmed mr. wray will step in to this role at a crucial moment not only in the history of the fbi but in the history of the nation. as we know multiple investigations are underwayis including by this body to clearly lay out to goodies that attempted to influence the 2016 election. these are important and sensitive investigations and they cannot be in the rope really influenced by people in powerful positions in any way whatsoever. this applies to the fbi director mr. wray was asked very direct way to what he would do if presented with the opportunity
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to influence these investigations in any way. he told the committee that he won't condone tampering with investigations and that he would resign rather than unduly, be unduly influenced in any manner. mr. wray's record of service and his reputation give us no reason to doubt him. he was forthright when he wasues asked specific questions about the events leading up to his being offered the job of fbi director by president trump. he made no loyalty pledges then and i expect him never to make such a pledge moving forward. mr. wray will also face the challenge of running the fbi, motivating his staff and
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ensuring that the fbi operates effectively and efficiently. my colleagues know that i haven't been pleased with how the fbi has or has not replied to judiciary committee inquiries and requests for information and this doesn't apply just to thehe senator but all the senators on the committee and it doesn'tethr matter whether republican or democrat. they are entitled to ask questions and they have to get answers. that's the constitutionalonf responsibility of oversight that all 535 members of congress have so not eating satisfied with the fbi in the past i asked mr. wray direct me about the fbi's responsiveness to members of this body. he promised me and didn't turn other members of this body that he will prioritize
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responsiveness and transparency to this body. this will allow us to do our important job of oversight over the nations top law enforcement agency. i'm glad that mr. wray is ready to work in partnership with the senate to help us perform our role very effectively. i expect to see improved responsiveness from mr. wray to our letters and to see enhancedt protection for whistleblowers within the fbi who come forward and they do that at great risk to themselves to let this body no where abuses of power are going unnoticed. we owe it to these brave people that we call whistleblowers but they are patriotic people, to give them the protection they deserve and the culture for this
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protection starts the top with a new fbi or mr. wray. as i mentioned before mr. wray was voted out of the committee unanimously pick the fact that all of my colleagues, democrats and republicans trusted mr. wra. with their aye vote says we need to know about his ability to perform the important role of fbi director and to do it with integrity, with confidence, with professionalism and the utmost respect for the constitution and the rule of law. we can't asked for mr. wray to do anything more than that. i urge my colleagues to join me in voting to confirm christopher wray as the next director of the fbi and i yield the floor. >> the senate later voted to


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