Wray appeared in front of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee on Thursday alongside Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and National Counterterrorism Center Director Christine Abizaid. The trio was brought before the committee to testify over national security threats to the U.S.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) grilled Wray over his reason for leaving an August hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee after only one round of questioning. Wray said he did not cut the hearing short; his early departure was agreed upon ahead of time with the committee chair, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
“The hearing was not cut short. From my experience, we had agreed upon the time and length of it, and I was very surprised to find that anyone on the committee was surprised,” Wray said when asked about his use of a private FBI jet to fly to the Adirondacks. The FBI director is required by law because of the sensitive nature of his job to use a private FBI jet anytime he flies.
Wray at first avoided a question about his reason for flying to the Adirondacks. When pressed by Hawley why Wray left a “statutorily required oversight hearing” before a second round of questioning, the FBI director admitted he left for a family vacation.
Wray testified that he was “very surprised” that Republicans on the Judiciary Committee were unaware of his early departure from the hill. At the time, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IO) complained about Wray’s early departure after hearing about the FBI director’s plans only after the hearing was underway.
“We just heard a half hour ago about you having to leave at 1:30,” Grassley said at the time. “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?”
Wray responded: “Senator, 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 pointed out that Wray, as FBI director, has access to his own private jet that can depart at any time the director likes. “If it’s your business trip, you’ve got your own plane. Can’t it wait a while?” Grassley asked.
Wray demurred without offering to push his flight back. At the end of the hearing, Wray confirmed to Grassley that the director was leaving for “other business.”
Under questioning from Hawley, Wray said that “the reference to ‘other business’ was not a reference to that day. It was a reference to the following week when Senator Grassley and I were going to see each other in Iowa.”
Hawley shot back: “You left an oversight hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee required by statute so you could vacation with your family. I find that absolutely unbelievable and, frankly, indefensible.”