FBI Director Christopher Wray promised whistleblowers would be protected under his watch during a Senate hearing on Thursday.
It comes after Republican lawmakers claimed to have heard from current and former bureau officials and Justice Department employees who accused the FBI of attempting to discredit probes into Hunter Biden in 2020.
Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Chuck Grassley, then its chairman, along with then-Senate Oversight Committee Chair Ron Johnson had launched an investigation into President Joe Biden’s son after a leaked hard drive from Hunter Biden’s laptop appeared to show signs of leveraging his father’s position to further foreign business dealings.
Grassley wrote a letter to the FBI last month claiming to have heard ‘highly credible’ allegations from within the DOJ that the bureau coordinated to dismiss ‘derogatory information relating to Hunter Biden’ as disinformation.
Without going into specifics on the president’s son’s case, Grassley pressed Wray on Thursday on the need to shield whistleblowers from retaliatory measures.
‘I think retaliatory conduct against whistleblowers is unacceptable. They serve a very, very important role in our system,’ Wray said.
The Trump-appointed FBI chief did not answer directly when Grassley asked whether he’d commit to not seeking the whistleblowers’ identities.
FBI Director Christopher Wray testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday
‘We will be scrupulous in our adherence to the rules related to whistleblowers,’ Wray said instead.
‘Obviously, if there are allegations of misconduct by FBI employees, we want to make sure that- that we get that information, so that we can use the tools that we have to go after that conduct.’
He repeated, ‘But certainly I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, any prospect of retaliation against whistleblowers.’
Again keeping his question vague, Grassley asked Wray if evidence of foreign actors making ‘improper or unlawful financial payments’ to US elected officials or ‘politically exposed persons’ would be a ‘national security concern’ for the FBI.
‘I think the kind of conduct you’re describing is typically something that we would look at very closely,’ Wray said.
‘It starts to shade into a blend of what we call malign foreign influence, with potentially public corruption. And it’s something that we take seriously.’
Wray was grilled on FBI whistleblower protections by Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, the committee’s ranking Republican
Hunter Biden’s laptop was allegedly discredited within the DOJ as disinformation around the same time as it was being ignored by most major media outlets. Intelligence experts dismissed the hard drive as ‘Russian disinformation’ at the time.
It landed in the mainstream media’s news cycle when its contents were authenticated by the Washington Post earlier this year.
Also this year, it was revealed that Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings are at the heart of a federal tax investigation – though there have been no public updates or reporting on that case since June.
The separate 2020 probe by Grassley and Johnson found that Hunter Biden had ‘cashed in’ on his family name when his father was vice president and even set off some alarm bells within the State Department over the 52-year-old recovering drug addict’s lucrative work on the board of an energy company in Ukraine.
However, the matter found no wrongdoing on the part of now-President Biden himself.
Both Grassley and Johnson have stated they will look deeper into the matter if Republicans retake the Congressional majority in November.
It comes after Grassley wrote a letter to several Defense Department agencies claiming to have ‘credible’ whistleblower testimony that the FBI sought to dismiss damaging information on Hunter Biden in the lead-up to the 2020 election
House GOP leaders have also promised to open inquiries into Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China if they win enough seats in the midterms.
Johnson said he has ‘no faith’ in Wray’s leadership on matters relating to Hunter Biden during an interview on Fox News this past Sunday.
‘I’m not shocked, but it’s outrageous that the FBI would be tipping the scales of justice the way they’re doing,’ he said reacting to the whistleblower allegations.
‘I have no faith in Christopher Wray of conducting this investigation, but it’s important that the American public understand the FBI had Hunter Biden’s laptop in December of 2019. They certainly saw the evidence of what I think is that criminal activity on that laptop.’
Johnson accused the FBI of having ‘done nothing’ with the supposed evidence.
‘Here we are in the end of July, early August 2022. What have they done with it?’ the senator posed.
‘No, you can’t you can’t trust this Department of Justice, the FBI, to get to the bottom of this.’