FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told a Senate panel Thursday that the bureau will take steps to protect whistleblowers, after current and former Justice Department and FBI employees alleged that agents illegally suppressed information about Hunter Biden in a criminal probe.
Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Wray did not address specific allegations related to the Hunter Biden case, but spoke in general terms about protecting whistleblowers.
“We will be scrupulous in our adherence to rules related to whistleblowers,” Mr. Wray said. “If there are allegations of misconduct by FBI employees, we want to make sure that we get that information so we can use the tools we have to go after that conduct. But certainly, I condemn in the strongest possible terms any prospect of retaliation against whistleblowers.”
“I think retaliatory conduct against whistleblowers is unacceptable and we have a number of mechanisms to report [it] but also be protected from retaliation,” he said.
The FBI director’s pledge comes after Sen. Charles E. Grassley, Iowa Republican, revealed that his office has been contacted by current and former “highly credible whistleblowers” who described how the FBI improperly sought to discredit the Hunter Biden investigation by labeling “verified and verifiable” information about the president’s son as “disinformation.”
By inaccurately labeling the evidence as disinformation, the Hunter Biden investigation essentially was brought to a halt by FBI officials.
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Mr. Grassley said in his opening statement that the FBI is showing partisanship, noting that the agency opened a probe of the Trump campaign in 2016 based on thin allegations of collusion with Russia.
“On the one hand, the FBI greenlit a full investigation into Trump based on liberal news articles and information derived from a liberal nonprofit,” Mr. Grassley said. “On the other hand, the FBI closed investigative activity and sources that provided verified and verifiable reporting on Hunter Biden.
Director Wray will have to explain to the committee – and the country – how he’ll manage this mess and clean house.”
In a letter last month to Mr. Wray and Attorney General Merrick Garland, Mr. Grassley wrote that the whistleblowers told him the Justice Department and FBI are required to follow strict guidelines to open an investigation and alleged agents did not follow those regulations.
Mr. Grassley said the whistleblowers also revealed that Assistant Special Agent in Charge Timothy Thibault shut down a line of inquiry into Hunter Biden in October 2020 because it was false information, even though some of the details were known to be accurate at the time, according to the senator.
Hunter Biden has not been charged with wrongdoing, but investigators were looking into whether or not he violated federal gun and tax laws. He is also under federal scrutiny for suspicion of money laundering and possible violation of foreign lobbying tied to his overseas business dealings.