WASHINGTON: FBI Director Christopher Wray today defended his agency before a Congressional committee following criticism by US President Donald Trump.
He asserted that the bureau was determined to be the "very best" at protecting the American people and upholding the rule of law.
On Sunday, Trump had sharply criticised the FBI, saying its "reputation is in tatters" "After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness," he had said in a tweet.
Testifying before the Congressional committee, Wray said the agency was passionate and focused and in its work.
"The work that we do is not easy, to put it mildly. But the FBI is mission focused and passionate about the work we do," he said.
After years of Comey, with the phony and dishonest Clinton investigation (and more), running the FBI, its reputation is in Tatters - worst in History! But fear not, we will bring it back to greatness.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 3, 2017
Wray said the agency was determined to be the "very best" at protecting the American people and upholding the rule of law.
"And I, for one, could not be more proud to be part of it," he said in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
There is no finer institution than the FBI, and no finer people than the men and women who work there and are its very beating heart: almost 37,000 men and women with a fierce commitment to protecting the American people and upholding the rule of law in all 50 states and in about 80 countries around the world, men and women who face the darkest that life has to offer with unyielding integrity and honesty and dedication, he said.
On the national security front, the FBI, he said, confronts individuals who want to harm the United States in whatever way they can.
"Terrorists hell-bent on striking us with IEDs, vehicles, guns and knives," Wray said, adding that the bureau has about 1,000 active ISIS investigations in all 50 states.
"We have nation-states actively seeking our technology, our military secrets, our research and development to build their own economic process and prowess and to tear ours down; cyber criminals who are using sophisticated means to infiltrate our systems and steal every piece of data that they can get their hands on," the FBI director said.
"These threats are real, they are many and they are a grave threat to all Americans," he said.
Congressman Robert Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said the he does not want the FBI to "become tainted by politicisation" "While some will take umbrage with President Trump's assertion, it does appear to me that, at the very least, the FBI's reputation as an impartial, nonpolitical agency has been called into question recently.
"We cannot afford for the FBI, which has traditionally been dubbed the premier law enforcement agency in the world, to become tainted by politicisation or the perception of a lack of evenhandedness," he said.
Goodlatte added, "Questions regarding the FBI's impartiality first came to light under the Obama administration, surrounding the handling of the investigation into the Clinton e-mail server scandal." Wray said he has never been asked by the president to take any kind of loyalty oath.
"My loyalty is to the Constitution, to the laws of this country and to the good men and people of America," he said in response to a question.