Wholly Inappropriate Questions

Rep. Gohmert has embarrassed himself several times at the expense of his Texas constituents. He denies human impact on the climate and drew an analogy between his position and the Catholic Church’s prosecution of Galileo. He has placed some of the blame of the Benghazi attack on Sen. John McCain and showed off a flow chart that remains the envy of every conspiracy theorist wearing a tin foil hat. His performance this week, however, established a new personal low as he channeled the late Sen. Joe McCarthy.

FBI Director Christopher Wray appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, December 7, and the hearing must have struck him as odd. Many of the Republican members of the committee, members of the party better known for pushing law and order issues, utilized their time to attack the FBI. The challenges ranged from the actions of agent Peter Strzok on special counsel Mueller’s investigation to the need for investigations of Sec. Clinton to the FBI’s authority to conduct Section 702 surveillance.

The vast majority of these partisan attacks arise from efforts to discredit Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation. The public should expect these attacks to increase over the next few months if it appears that the investigation is getting closer to finding grounds for an indictment against Mr. Trump or members of his family. As Rep. Nadler observed to Director Wray: “I predict that these attacks on the FBI will grow louder and more brazen as the special counsel does his work and the walls close in around the president, …. Your job requires you to have the courage in these circumstances to stand up to the president.’’

Rep. Gohmert’s questions distinguished themselves during the hearing. Rep. Gohmert directly confronted the Director about the loyalty of his staff, asking about those members of the FBI with “political bias against” Mr. Trump. After opening his time with an unsubstantiated attack on Mueller’s time as the FBI Director, Rep. Gohmert’s asked Director Wray directly whether a series of individuals, each of whom he identified individually by name, had been witnessed “openly speaking against this administration.” See clip starting at 2:56. These questions pushed FBI Director Wray into a defense of individual, while challenging the underlying premise of Re. Gohmert’s questions.

As a matter of leadership, Director Wray should have told the Representative from Texas that he would not answer such questions. As a practical matter, little separates these questions from Sen. McCarthy inquiring whether certain individuals were communists. The questions improperly and without foundation sought to attack the integrity of individuals. The questions were particularly infuriating as they came from an individual of questionable intelligence and integrity who offered them solely for a political purpose.

Nothing necessitates or required the Director to answer fundamentally inane questions about the entire breadth of comments that any individual has made. Further, a negative comment about an individual who accused the FBI of “roll[ing] over,” botched the firing of Director Comey, labeled the FBI’s moral as low, stated that the FBI’s reputation is in tatters and otherwise conducts a relentless attack on law enforcement and intelligence groups not doing exactly what he desires would prompt most people to respond with something less than full enthusiasm. Disagreement with an individual or his policies does not render an individual bias, unfaithful to the laws and Constitution or unable to perform his or her job.

Rep. Gohmert owes an apology to each individual he mentioned during his inquiry.


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