Congressman Hank Johnson

Representing the 4th District of Georgia

Rep. Johnson Questions FBI Director in Judiciary Hearing

December 7, 2017
Press Release

Rep. Johnson Questions FBI Director in Judiciary Hearing

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, pressed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray on questions around Russian interference in U.S. elections, future cybersecurity of U.S. elections, whether or not the FBI is investigating the vulnerabilities of Georgia’s election systems and whether or not Mr. Wray believes the President of the United States can obstruct justice. Below is a transcript and video link of the exchange:

Rep. Johnson Questions FBI Director Wray in Judiciary Hearing: Link HERE

Chair: The chair recognizes the gentleman from Georgia, Mr. Johnson, for five minutes.

Mr. Johnson: Director Wray, you’ve led a distinguished career as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia – in Atlanta, we’re homeboys on that part – Justice Department, Associate Attorney General, even serving as Assistant Attorney General heading up the criminal division of the entire Justice Department and then as a litigation partner at the international and premier law firm of King & Spalding, you headed up the special matters in government investigations practice group, which involved sophisticated government investigatory matters involving your clients and also you even represented Gov. Christie during the Bridge Gate Scandal – successfully I presume at this point. So you’ve had a long career in criminal law and in matters involving government. I find it hard to believe that you have not pondered the question of whether or not a president can be guilty of obstruction of justice. You have pondered that question have you not?

Mr. Wray: To be honest, it’s not really something I’ve pondered that is a question that involves complicated questions of separation of powers. This committee won't be shocked to learn I have quite a lot on my plate as it is. I don’t have a whole lot of time to do a lot of pondering.

Mr. Johnson: Is it your belief that a sitting president can be guilty of obstructing justice?

Mr. Wray: That’s a legal question that I haven’t tried to evaluate.

Mr. Johnson: Within the last few days, the House Intelligence Committee has requested documents from you and other government officials from the so-called Steele dossier. To date, you and other government officials have refused to comply with the production of these documents. Why have you failed to produce these documents?

Mr. Wray: We are having extensive interaction with multiple committees about these issues. They involve complicated questions not just of classification. They also effect ongoing investigations in particular the special counsel's investigation. In particular, in many instances, we are dealing with very, very dicey questions of sources and methods, which is the life blood of foreign intelligence and our liaison relationships with our foreign partners.

Mr. Johnson: Earlier this year, the FBI opened an investigation into the vulnerabilities of the state of Georgia’s election systems. Thereafter, Georgia citizens filed a lawsuit over the security or lack thereof of Georgia’s election systems, which were then outsourced by Georgia’s secretary of state to the center for election systems. Four days after that lawsuit was filed, Georgia election officials wiped clean or deleted the election data on CES servers. One month later, two additional servers were wiped clean. So evidence that is critical to the issues raised in the lawsuit and to the FBI investigation perhaps -- that information has been destroyed. Can you confirm that the FBI obtained copies of the data on Georgia’s election servers prior to the data being destroyed by Georgia election officials?

Mr. Wray: Congressman, can’t discuss what the FBI may or may not have obtained in the course of any particular investigation in this setting.

Mr. Johnson: Can you confirm that there is an ongoing investigation into this matter?

Mr. Wray: Again, I don't want to confirm or deny. It’s important that I put both those words in there -- the existence of a specific investigation.

Mr. Johnson: Would you be willing upon your investigation’s completion, if there is an investigation, would you be willing to provide this committee with an update on this issue?

Mr. Wray: If there is information that we could appropriately share on the topic that you’re asking about, I’d be happy to see if there’s something we can do to be helpful and responsive to this committee.

Mr. Johnson: The Department of Justice recently admitted in court that they are treating the president’s disturbing and combative tweets as “official statements of the President of the United States.” Considering the DOJ’s position and the president repeatedly demanding that the FBI investigate his political opponents, do you consider these tweets to be orders that the FBI must follow?

Mr. Wray: That’s a legal question. I’ll be guided by the lawyers on that one.

Mr. Johnson: So have your lawyers given you an opinion as to whether or not the president’s tweets are official statements?

Mr. Wray: Well, without discussing attorney-client communications, I’m still following the ordinary course of business in terms of what orders we follow.

Mr. Johnson: Sir, you have given me every objection for not answering the questions in the books and I appreciate it. Mr. Chairman, I yield back. Thank you.

Chair: The time of the gentleman has expired.

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