Breaking with the president, the lawyer Donald Trump picked to lead the FBI declared Wednesday that he does not believe a special counsel investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump election campaign is a "witch hunt".
"Sen. Feinstein, I did not discuss those topics at all with anyone in the White House", Wray said. Wray's testimony comes one day after Donald Trump Jr. released emails from a year ago arranging a meeting with a Russian lawyer to discuss what was to be "high level and sensitive information" that was allegedly a "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump" during the presidential campaign.
"I love it", Donald Jr. responded, among other things.
Unlike the president, Wray supports Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible coordination between Russian Federation and the Trump campaign.
The Russia matter has dogged Trump's first six months in office. "I can't imagine a situation where I would have given a press conference on an uncharged individual, much less talking in detail about it", Wray told the hearing.
Wray conceded that he would advise politicians to call the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Trump won't say whether Russian Federation alone meddled in the US election; Wray says he has "no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community" that Russian Federation did meddle.
Wray said no one at the White House had asked that he pledge loyalty to Trump, as Comey said the president demanded of him on January 26.
"Most of my four years in the leadership of the department were focused on those issues", Wray said, noting that during that time, the counterterrorism and counterespionage sections were part of the criminal division, so fell under his oversight responsibilities.
In the separate Senate questionnaire, Wray said he anticipated receiving a partnership distribution of $880,000 on July 17, adding that upon confirmation he would withdraw from the firm and recuse himself from any investigation in which his law firm represents a party, according to a CNN report.
"I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt", he said under questioning from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of SC.
Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the president asked for his loyalty, a request critics deemed inappropriate.
"This is proof positive that the Trump campaign was willing to work with the Russians", Graham said. "And if that failed, I would resign". That will have to be addressed in the confirmation hearing, as the questionnaire put forward by Wray in advance is short of any controversy - or mention of Trump. Wray, who was also at the DOJ at the time would have reported to Comey. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, who found fault with the way Comey handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of State.
Wray's task Wednesday was to convince the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will vote to send his nomination to the full Senate for approval, that he would rather get fired than bend to political pressure.
Wray has been asked questions about his involvement in national security matters during the Bush administration, when the government authorized harsh interrogation techniques.