Wray doesn’t recall input on ‘torture memos’

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WASHINGTON (AP) Develops on Wednesday, July 12, about the Senate hearing on Christopher Wray’s nomination as FBI director (all times Eastern Daylight Time).

  • 12:00 p.m.

FBI director nominee Christopher Wray said he has no recollection of providing input on Bush-era Justice Department memos on the interrogation and detention of terror suspects.

Wray was asked during his confirmation hearing about his role in the so-called “torture memos” detailing the use of certain interrogation tactics such as waterboarding and sleep deprivation. Redacted emails to and from him were included in an ACLU database on the subject.

Wray said he did not support torture and said “I have no recollection of ever reviewing, much less providing input or comments or blessing, approval,” of memos on the subject.

Wray was asked questions about his involvement in national security matters during the Bush administration, when the government authorized harsh interrogation techniques.

  • 11:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s pick for FBI director said he does not consider special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation a “witch hunt.”

Christopher Wray made the comments under questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham about Trump’s own comments on the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.

In a series of statements on Twitter, Trump called Mueller’s investigation a “WITCH HUNT” based on the “phony” premise of possible collusion between Russia and a cadre of Trump campaign associates.

“I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt,” Wray said.

  • 11:20 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s pick for FBI director said efforts to meddle or interfere with U.S. elections should be reported to FBI.

Christopher Wray’s comments came under sharp questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham about revelations that Trump’s son’s met with a Russian lawyer during last year’s presidential campaign.

Graham asked whether Trump Jr. should have agreed to that meeting; Wray stopped short of answering.

Graham then asked whether he should meet with Russians if they wanted to help his campaign.

Wray told Graham he would probably want to consult with a legal adviser before doing so. Asked whether someone should report that to the FBI, he added, “Any threat or effort to interfere with our election by any nation state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”

  • 11:00 a.m.

FBI director nominee Christopher Wray said he has not been asked to pledge his loyalty to the Trump Administration nor would he do so.

Wray said his loyalty is to the Constitution, the rule of law and the mission of the FBI.

Wray said, “no one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn’t offer one.”

  • 10:50 a.m.

FBI director nominee Christopher Wray said attempts to tamper with a special counsel investigation into Russian election meddling would be “unacceptable.”

Wray said he would inform the Senate Judiciary Committee of any efforts to interfere with that probe, as long as he wouldn’t be breaking any law or hindering the investigation by revealing such information.

Wray’s comments came under questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein about special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Wray said he would be “committed to supporting” the investigation “in whatever way is appropriate for me.” He added that any efforts to tamper would need to be dealt with “very sternly.”

He says he views Mueller “as the consummate straight shooter. Someone I have enormous respect for.”

The two worked together when Wray was in the Bush administration’s Justice Department.

  • 10:35 a.m.

Wray said he never discussed former director James Comey’s firing with the White House.

Wray said he also never discussed Comey or his abrupt dismissal with the Justice Department or the FBI.

Wray said the issue only came up once, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told him he had appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Trump campaign ties to Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. That happened after Comey’s firing.

Wray said, “that made for a better landscape for me to consider taking on this position.”

  • 10:30 a.m.

Wray said he would lead the agency “without fear, without favoritism and certainly without regard to political influence.”

He said the American public rightly expects that commitment.

Wray said, “anybody who thinks that I would be pulling punches as FBI director sure doesn’t know me very well.”

He said there’s only one right way to lead the FBI, and that’s with “strict independence” and by being faithful to the Constitution.

Some lawmakers will want assurances that he will be able to be independent from the White House after President Donald Trump was said to have asked for a loyalty pledge before firing former director James Comey.

  • 10:00 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s nominee for FBI director signaled that he won’t let politics get in the way of the bureau’s mission.

In prepared testimony, Christopher Wray will tell senators that he won’t allow the FBI’s work “to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice.”

He will also pledge his loyalty to the Constitution and to the rule of law. He says he’ll follow that commitment “no matter the test.”

Wray appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a confirmation hearing. He was selected to replace James Comey, who was fired by Trump in May.

FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms.

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