President Donald Trump admitted that it was perhaps a mistake to appoint Christopher Wray as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), citing concerns about Wray’s conduct. Wray was nominated for the position in May 2017, following Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey over his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation. Although Wray’s nomination easily passed through the Senate with a 92-5 vote, he has since become a target of criticism from Republicans, who accuse him of “weaponizing” the agency.
During an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on July 16, Trump acknowledged that it was likely a mistake to appoint Wray as the agency’s head, placing the blame on former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who had recommended Wray for the position. Trump has previously referred to Christie as a “Republican in name only” (RINO).
Wray and the FBI have faced allegations of abuse and overreach, which have further amplified the criticism against him. In particular, the FBI’s raid of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida, in an attempt to recover potentially classified documents, drew significant backlash. Wray defended the raid as the “lawful execution of a search warrant” during a contentious appearance before the House Judiciary Committee. In response, Trump argued that his actions are protected by the Presidential Records Act and condemned the case against him as a politically motivated “witch hunt” by the Department of Justice under President Joe Biden.
Trump voiced his broader concerns about the FBI and the Department of Justice, stating that they have become “tremendously political.” The former president currently faces 37 federal counts related to allegations regarding his handling of documents, which he and his supporters believe are designed to harm Republicans electorally.
Although Trump made a distinction between the FBI’s leadership and its field agents, he expressed doubt about the credibility of the agency. He cited examples such as former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok, who became subjects of public scrutiny due to their exchanged text messages about preventing Trump from winning the 2016 election.
Trump also addressed Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), a controversial tool used for surveillance within the United States. In particular, the FBI’s use of this authority against Trump associate Carter Page has drawn extensive attention. Recent findings have revealed the illegal use of this authority against 3.3 million Americans in 2020. Trump expressed skepticism about renewing FISA, referring to it as “corrupt” and criticizing the entire FISA court system. He mentioned the FBI’s mishandling of documents related to Russia as evidence of the agency’s impropriety.
Many of Trump’s potential rivals for the 2024 GOP nomination, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, have indicated that they would replace Wray if elected.