In midst of Hurricane Florence, a plea agreement between special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and Paul Manafort, an 11th-hour allegation launched at Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump’s outrageous denial of deaths from last year’s Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Trump exceeding 5,000 lies since entering office, there was a bright light.
In an extended interview with CBS News aired over three mornings, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray appeared credible, independent, honest and competent. He was asked about the president’s mental state. His answer spoke volumes:
NORAH O’DONNELL: [The anonymous New York Times op-ed written by a current senior administration official] — I know that you have denied that. But — but I want to ask you about the content. It described the president’s leadership style as, quote, “impetuous,” “adversarial,” “petty” and “ineffective.” It said that the root of the president’s problems is, quote, “amorality.” Does that sound like the president you know?
WRAY: I try very hard to make sure that my relationship with the president is a professional one. . . . And beyond that, I’m not going to really be weighing in on opinions, especially anonymously expressed opinions. I can tell you that there are lots of ways for people to express their views and their disagreements. For me, the idea of doing it through an anonymous op-ed is about the furthest thing from my mind.
Notice that Wray did not defend the president as too many administration sycophants seem to feel obligated to do.
He was clear about Russia’s ongoing interference with our election system (“what we call malign foreign influence efforts. … What they do is sow both inaccurate information, disinformation, it’s a kind of information warfare, and then propaganda. Exaggerated half-truths, distortions”) but nevertheless reassured Americans that the election results will be valid. “I think Americans can have confidence in our election system,” he told O’Donnell.
Most important, he defended the men and women of the FBI, whom the president and his Fox News media lackeys have unfairly smeared:
I think sometimes watching the news — and certainly trolling the Internet, you would think that the FBI has only had two investigations over the last three years. I will tell you that, when you get out into real America, people know differently. . . . I’ve met with prosecutors, I’ve met with victims, I’ve met with judges. And in office after office, what I encounter from the people who actually experience the FBI through our work is a very different story.
He stressed, “We’re about the work, and about the people we work for, and that’s the American people. That’s the victims that we’re trying to protect . . . whether it’s kidnappings or terrorist attacks or gang violence. That’s what we’re about.”
Moreover, with Wray, you really do get the sense it is not all about him. Perhaps we are fortunate that he and not James B. Comey is steering the FBI through this dangerous time.
If the president is out of control, dishonest, uninformed and unfit to lead, there is some comfort knowing that a self-disciplined, honest, knowledgeable and entirely fit public servant is leading a critical law enforcement and counterterrorism organization, For all that, we can say, well done, Director Wray.