Fusfoo Five: Politics (FBI, FBI, That Testimony)

James Comey: The Testimony

It’s been just over a month since President Trump made the executive decision to fire former FBI Director, James B. Comey. According to our Commander in Chief, the decision was based on Comey’s handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Trump’s decision was controversial because the President was believed to have reaped the political benefits of Comey’s investigation of Clinton in the time leading up to the election. Comey testifies before the intelligence committee of the United States Senate today.  

Watch Comey's testimony here.

Trump’s New Nomination: Christopher Wray

Trump announced his nomination for Comey’s replacement in the Trump-iest way possible. That’s right, Twitter. Trump filled in the American people about his vision for the future of the F.B.I. by tweeting, “I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials to be the new director of the FBI. Details to follow.” 

Grammar aside, here’s what we know about Trump’s new nominee. Wray led the Justice Department’s criminal division for two years under the presidency of George W. Bush. On top of that, he represented New Jersey Governor Chris Christie during the investigation of the Bridgegate scandal. Nowadays, Wray is a litigation partner at the King and Spalding law firm in Washington D.C. He’s a chairman of the firm’s Special Matters and Government Investigations Practice Group.

“Chris Wray is an extraordinary person, possessing all the gifts necessary to be a great director of the FBI,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently stated. "I congratulate President Trump for choosing a leader of proven skill, independence, and integrity, a man in whom all Americans can have confidence. "

Trump Breaks Bread with the Intelligence Committee

Trump dined with a handful of his Republican peers on the evening of Tuesday, June 7th. The assembly didn’t consist of your average lawmakers. The meeting included several Intelligence Committee members responsible for questioning Comey during his upcoming hearing. Six GOP lawmakers also attended this White House dinner, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. Trump also met with Texas Sen. John Cornyn and other GOP leadership members earlier in the day.

The executive branch technically has the authority to withhold information from conversations between the President and other officials. With this in mind, the White House considered using executive privilege to prevent Comey from testifying, but eventually decided not to exercise this because “The President’s power to assert executive privilege is very well established.”  White House Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said, "However, in order to facilitate a swift examination of the facts sought by the intelligence committee, President Trump will not assert executive privilege regarding James Comey's scheduled testimony."

Wray’s Nomination Comes at an Interesting Time

Was Trump’s nomination of Christopher Wray a way to deflect attention from other issues? Over the last few weeks, tensions have skyrocketed between President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the Russian campaign interference controversy. According to a senior administration official, Sessions declared that he would be willing to resign if Trump no longer wanted him as Attorney General.

Among those most suspect of Wray’s nomination announcement was Virginia Sen. Mark Warner. Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate’s Intelligence Committee. Warner believes that the timing could be intended to lessen the impact of Comey’s testimony to Congress. "I think it is more than a little bit curious that the President chose this morning as the time to announce his new FBI head," Warner said on CNN's "New Day." He went on to add, "There will be a time and place to review him. But it seems to me that this is an effort to try to take people's attention off what is going to be the main event, at least for the next two days: the leaders of our intelligence community and the FBI director."

The Nation was Watching

Comey's testimony was one of the most watched events of the century, with the American people gathering in offices, universities and bar's across the country. Twitter livestreamed the hearing globally as part of its partnership with with Bloomberg News. The testimony has far reaching and political and historical implications. Years from now you might be asking, "Where were you when...?"

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