I wrote earlier in August about how FBI Director Christopher Wray said he couldn’t stay 21 more minutes to answer more questions from the Republican members on the Senate Judiciary Committee because he had a plane to catch. As I noted at the time, Sen. Chuck Grassley busted him on that by noting that Wray had his private plane, so it wasn’t like he was rushing to catch a flight anywhere and would miss it. Of course, Wray wanted to beat it out of there because the Republicans were asking great questions about the politicization of the FBI. Wray likely was trying to avoid answering anything more.
But as it turned out, not only was he taking a private plane, he wasn’t going to work, he was leaving to go to his vacation home in the Adirondacks in Saranac Lake, New York. So he truly was just blowing them off and effectively giving them the finger. The plane was intended for use in counterintelligence operations.
Here’s Wray answering “yes” to Grassley when Grassley says he assumes he has other “business” when he was going to his vacation home.
FBI Director Christopher Wray After Having To Leave Early From Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Today
Senator Grassley: "I assume you've got other business?"
Director Wray: "Yeh." pic.twitter.com/luPDQpmbrQ
— The Columbia Bugle 🇺🇸 (@ColumbiaBugle) August 4, 2022
So, in addition to flipping them the bird, he also seems to have personally misled Grassley. I’m thinking that Grassley can’t be very happy about this and is likely to be having a word or two to say to Wray.
Now the House GOP is going after Wray as well, over his use of the taxpayer-funded plane to go to his vacation home. House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), House Committee on Oversight and Reform ranking member James Comer (R-KY), and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence ranking member Mike Turner (R-OH) are demanding answers from Wray in a letter sent on Monday.
In light of a recent report by the New York Post that you left a Senate hearing early to fly on an FBI aircraft for a personal vacation, we have questions about whether you are properly reimbursing federal taxpayers for your personal travel aboard government aircraft.
According to the Post, on August 4, 2022, you abruptly departed a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing to engage in personal travel to your vacation home in Saranac Lake, New York. Despite requests from Ranking Member Grassley, you refused to remain at the hearing for an additional 21 minutes for remaining members to finish asking their questions and conduct oversight of the FBI. You reportedly departed on the FBI’s Gulfstream 550 jet, an agency aircraft initially intended for counterterrorism use, to make the one hour and 12-minute journey to Saranac Lake. Further, it has been reported that you made a similar personal trip on a government aircraft on June 2 and June 5, 2022.
While the lawmakers noted that some FBI officials have used government aircraft for personal use in the past, the officials reimbursed the taxpayers at the commercial rate.
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance states that a government plane is only authorized for “official purposes” and may only be authorized outside official travel when no commercial air is available or would cost more.
The lawmakers are asking to receive documents related to Wray’s government aircraft travel and an accounting of the cost to taxpayers no later than Aug. 29.
According to the GAO, Wray would be required to make reimbursement payments for personal travel to the FBI’s Finance Division, and then transfer funds to the Treasury Department.
Wray needs to answer up, not just on this but over the politicization of the FBI in general and cleaning house has to be number one on the hit parade when the GOP takes back Congress.