FBI Director Cuts Congressional Hearing Short to Fly to Vacation Home in Taxpayer-Funded Jet… Republican Lawmakers Investigate For Ethical and Financial Misconduct
Last week, FBI Director Christopher Wray cut his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee short because he said he had a plane to catch. The plane that Wray was in such a hurry for ended up being the FBI’s luxury Gulfstream 550 jet that took him to the Adirondacks, where his family has a summer home.
During Wray’s testimony, which was very disingenuous, he avoided questions from both Democrats and Republicans who pressed him about the FBI’s mishandling of the case of Larry Nassar, who was convicted in 2016 of sexually abusing US gymnasts. Wray was also asked why he didn’t fire one of the agents involved in the botched case until 2021.
Wray also refused to agree with Marsha Blackburn (R., Tenn.) that Hunter Biden’s laptop was not “Russian disinformation.”
When grilled about the FBI ignoring the law that is supposed to have prohibited the pro-abortion activists from protesting outside the homes of the Supreme Court Justices, Wray replied that FBI agents are “up to their necks enforcing all sorts of laws.”
The FBI Director then cut his testimony short, announcing he had a plane to catch.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) expressed his confusion after this announcement, saying, “We just heard a half hour ago about you having to leave at 1:30. We were going to have seven minutes [each] for first round [questions and] three-minute second rounds. I’ve got seven people on my side of the aisle want their additional three minutes. Is there any reason we couldn’t accommodate them for 21 minutes?”
“Senator,” replied Wray, “I had a flight that I’m supposed to be high-tailing it to outta here, and I had understood that we were going to be done at 1:30, so that’s how we ended up where we are.”
Grassley then pointed out that he has a private jet at his disposal, allowing him to leave whenever he wants. “If it’s your business trip, you’ve got your own plane. Can’t it wait a while?” Grassley asked.
“To be honest, I tried to make my break as fast I could to get right back out here,” said Wray, to which Grassley replied, “You took more than five minutes.”
Wray just laughed.
Wray then left for his vacation in the Adirondacks on his private luxury jet.
This is not the first time that the director has used the FBI plane for personal travel reasons. In June, he went to Saranac lake and back to Washington D.C. a few days later on the Gulfstream.
The use of the FBI’s Gulfstream jet for private trips is controversial since it was originally intended for counterterrorism use. James Comey, Wray’s predecessor, also used the jet for private travel.
The director is required to reimburse the cost of a single class airline ticket for his personal trip, while it costs several thousand dollars an hour to just operate the Gulfstream. So, instead of just flying on a public plane, Wray is choosing to exploit the resources he has as the FBI Director.
Wray is not the first director to draw criticism for the use of this jet, either. Back in 2013, when Comey was the FBI director, Grassley vocalized his issues with this highly-expensive form of travel, saying,
“These luxury jets were supposedly needed for counterterrorism, but it turns out that they were used almost two-thirds of the time for jet-setting executive travel… Nobody disputes that the Attorney General and the FBI Director should have access to the secure communications, but, for instance, there’s no reason they can’t take a less expensive mode of transportation, or cut their personal travel.”
Following this display of disrespect in the hearing, top-ranking House Republicans wrote a letter on Monday stating that they will be investigating Wray for potential ethical and financial misconduct over his alleged taxpayer-funded travel.
The letter reads,
“We write to conduct oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) use of Government aircraft and compliance with the applicable Federal regulations and requirements. We have questions about whether you are properly reimbursing federal taxpayers for your personal travel aboard government aircraft.”
“Although certain federal officials are permitted to use government aircraft for personal or political use, these expenses must be reimbursed. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), past FBI directors have used government aircraft for personal use as is permissible. These former officials reimbursed federal taxpayers at the commercial rate, which can be thousands of dollars less than the actual cost of operating the government aircraft. Reimbursement payments for personal travel are made to the FBI Finance Division, which in turn deposits the funds to the Department of the Treasury.”
Fox News noted that government plane travel is authorized for “official purposes” and may only be used for informal travel when no commercial air is available or would cost more, per Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance.
The House Republicans have requested Wray’s travel records and cost accounting to taxpayers by August 29.
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