Published: Fri, May 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Wray Says He Wouldn’t Use ‘Spying’ Term To Describe FBI Surveillance

Wray Says He Wouldn’t Use ‘Spying’ Term To Describe FBI Surveillance

During his testimony today, FBI Director Christopher Wray was asked about surveillance on the Trump campaign and Attorney General Bill Barr's use of the word "spying".

The recently concluded investigation from special counsel Robert Mueller did not find a criminal conspiracy between the campaign and the Kremlin to tip the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

"That's not the term I would use", Wray said in response to a question from Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, during a congressional hearing about the FBI's budget.

While Wray acknowledged that people use different terms, he said his priority is ensuring the agency's work is "done by the book".

"As a prosecutor, as a former prosecutor, a current prosecutor, knowing full well what the connotations of the term spying are versus legally authorized surveillance, we're not talking about rats and godfather stuff here".

Note that Wray was responding to the everyday activities of the FBI, not specifically to the activities surrounding the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign.

Cybersecurity threats have grown exponentially and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation is in serious need of data analytical tools and cybersecurity tools to address the problem, Wray added.

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Wray confirmed the ongoing FISA investigation being conducted by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz but was careful not to comment on it.

Wray declined to discuss in detail the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign because of an ongoing Justice Department inspector general probe into the origins of the Russian Federation inquiry. Nor did Wray confirm or deny spying on the Trump campaign.

Wray's answer is given greater context in video form, in which it can be seen that Wray paused prior to answering and emphasized the words "I personally", but the damage was done and the sound bite obtained.

Wray said he and his staff are working to help Barr understand the circumstances surrounding the FBI's decision to open a counterintelligence investigation in July 2016 into whether anyone on the Trump campaign was conspiring with Russian Federation to interfere in the election.

At that hearing, Barr said he wanted to explore whether any Justice Department rules were violated in the course of the investigation of people associated with the Trump campaign.

The FISA investigation is one of several investigations coming to an end.

The FBI director's comments are in contrast to those made by Barr at a Senate hearing on April 10, when he said "spying did occur, yes", calling it "a big deal".

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