Democratic House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY) recently spent some time having FBI Director Christopher Wray knock down GOP attacks on his agency’s execution of a search warrant at Mar-a-Lago.
Wray went on to testify on Wednesday at a contentious hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, during which Republicans aggressively questioned him about a variety of issues.
It has been noted that Nadler used his first round of questions to tick through several attacks that ex-President Donald Trump and other Republicans have made over the FBI raid — which Wray said was not a raid — of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, which led to the 37-count indictment that Trump is about to stand trial for:
REP. NADLER: Director Wray. House Republicans have attacked the execution of the search warrant of Mar-a-Lago last August as a, quote, unprecedented raid. Would you consider the execution of the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago a raid?
DIRECTOR WRAY: I would not call it a raid. I would call it the execution of a lawful search warrant.
REP. NADLER: Can you describe how the search was executed?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Well, we had the case team, you know, follow it’s standard procedure. It is sometimes been described as a SWAT operation. It was not there was no SWAT involvement. But beyond that, I think I want to be really careful with getting too far into the details now that this case is not only in the hands of the special counsel, but more importantly, in my view, in front of the court. And I learned a long time ago as a line prosecutor and defense lawyer to respect the court process is where I think.
REP. NADLER: Were particular steps taken to ensure that the execution of the search warrant did not draw undue attention?
DIRECTOR WRAY: I think there were steps along those lines. Yes, sir.
REP. NADLER: Can you name a couple of them?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Well, among other things, we did not have people coming in so-called raid jackets, you know, which is often something you would see.
REP. NADLER: In other words, the FBI agents executing the search were plain clothes so as not to attract undue attention. The FBI waited until Trump had left Mar-a-Lago to execute the search. Is that correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Yes.
REP. NADLER: And Chairman Jordan has attacked the DOJ and the FBI for not attempting to get the documents back from Trump consensually before turning to a search warrant. I want to walk through all these, the opportunities Trump had to produce these documents, and I have a series of yes or no questions. The National Archives, also known as NARA first asked Trump to return all presidential records to them in May 2021, correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Well, I don’t remember the date, but I remember there was a request by the National Archives.
REP. NADLER: And then throughout 2021 they made repeated follow-up requests. But still, Trump replied to comply, correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Yes. I would refer you to the pleadings that have been filed in court that lay out in better detail than I could here.
REP. NADLER: That in fact, it was not until January 2022, after NARA warned Trump that failing to return documents could violate the Presidential Records Act. Trump finally produced 15 boxes of documents to it. Correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Again, I would just refer to our court filings which go into great detail about all this.
REP. NADLER: And even these 15 boxes did not contain all the documents Trump was required to return. Correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: That’s my recollection. But again, I’ll review.
REP. NADLER: In May 2022, a grand jury had to actually subpoena Trump for the missing documents, correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: The same answer, yes.
REP. NADLER: And Trump was then present on June 3rd when his attorneys handed over another folder of documents and a certification that all classified material had been returned. Correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Again, I just want to stick with what’s in the court filings. That sounds right to me, but I really want to be careful to stay within the four corners.
REP. NADLER: But the certification was false, right? Even then, Trump had not returned all classified material, correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: I think that is part of the indictment.
REP. NADLER: He had additional documents hiding in his bathroom, in a storage room, in his storage units, etc..
DIRECTOR WRAY: Yes. Again, I think that’s part of the indictment.
REP. NADLER: And so finally, DOJ and FBI were required to obtain a search warrant to obtain the classified documents that had not been retained. Correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Same answer.
REP. NADLER: The documents retrieved during that search included 69 marked confidential, 98 secret and 30 top secret. Is that correct?
DIRECTOR WRAY: Same answer.
REP. NADLER: So to sum up, President Trump had many, many chances to voluntarily comply with FBI and DOJ requests. Instead, he made the choice to keep these highly classified defense and national security documents, apparently because he wanted a souvenir. I find myself in the strange position of agreeing with former Attorney General Bill Barr statement that Trump brought this on himself. And I would add that it’s absurd that House Republicans are attacking the FBI and DOJ for doing their job and ensuring that no person is above the law.