Taking a position that could once again put him at odds with President Donald Trump, FBI Director Christopher Wray told a Senate panel Thuesday that history has not presented the bureau with any evidence of national voter fraud efforts in a major election, though the issue is on the “radar.”
We take all election threats seriously, whether it’s voter fraud, voter suppression, whether it’s in person, or by mail,” Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Thursday. “Our role is to investigate the threat actors.
“We have not seen historically any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”
Wray admitted “we have seen voter fraud at the local level from time to time,” so he stressed his comment “in no way be minimizing how seriously we take our responsibility” to investigate potential voter fraud actors in this presidential election.
“Certainly to change a federal election outcome by mounting that kind of fraud at scale would be a major challenge for an adversary,” Wray said, adding “we’re vigilant as to the threat and watching it carefully.”
“Because we’re in uncharted new territory,” he continued.
Wray’s position may not sit well with Trump, who has cited the likelihood of rampant fraud, perpetrated by domestic and foreign sources, as a main objection to the embrace of mail-in voting in November. Multiple states have expanded mail-in voting in this unusual, pandemic-tinged election season.
Trump has also found himself at odds with Wray in a very public way at least once before this month. Several days ago, for instance, the president took issue with his FBI director for highlighting the threat posed by Russia and right-wing militias to the U.S. election, rather than focusing on China and left-wing groups.
Trump, whose campaign was accused by political opponents of having murky ties to Russian operatives offering assistance during the 2016 election, has repeatedly challenged intelligence officials’ claims that Moscow still poses the chief danger.
Still, the Republican’s criticism of Wray at the White House, a day after the FBI chief had testified before Congress, was unusually public for a U.S. president.
Asked by reporters if he wanted to fire Wray, Trump said: “We’re looking at a lot of different things.”
Reports have surfaced that the White House has been preparing a short list of candidates to replace Wray, though the decision may not come until after the election to avoid the fallout that resulted from Trump’s termination of onetime FBI chief James Comey.
Sidney Powell, the lawyer for Gen. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, is on the White House shortlist of candidates to replace Wray, reported Newsmax TV’s Emerald Robinson.