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FBI director counters Trump’s attacks on his agency

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By SADIE GURMAN and ERIC TUCKER

WASHINGTON (AP) — FBI Director Christopher Wray on Thursday countered strident attacks on his agency by President Donald Trump, saying, “There is no finer institution than the FBI.”

Wray testified before the House Judiciary Committee as Democrats and Republicans clashed over the significance of Trump’s attacks on the agency. In a storm of tweets last weekend, Trump called the nation’s top law enforcement agency a biased institution whose reputation is “in Tatters — worst in History!” and urged Wray to “clean house.”

Democrats pushed Wray to respond forcefully, while Republicans echoed Trump in suggesting they worry about political bias in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Like Trump, they seized on revelations that an FBI agent was removed from Mueller’s team because of anti-Trump texts.

“There is no shortage of opinions out there, but what I can tell you is that the FBI that I see is tens of thousands of agents and analysts and staff working their tails off to keep Americans safe,” Wray said of the agency he has led for just four months. “The FBI that I see is tens of thousands of brave men and women working as hard as they can to keep people they will never know safe from harm.”

Wray conceded that agents do make mistakes and said there are processes in place to hold them accountable.

His defense of the FBI came after the committee’s chairman, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said he was concerned by reports about Peter Strzok, a veteran counterintelligence agent involved in the Clinton investigation, being removed from Mueller’s team last summer following the discovery of text messages seen as potentially anti-Trump.

“It is absolutely unacceptable for FBI employees to permit their own political predilections to contaminate any investigation,” Goodlatte said. “Even the appearance of impropriety will devastate the FBI’s reputation.”

Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, top Democrat on the House Judiciary panel, predicted Trump’s attacks on the FBI will only grow louder as Mueller continues investigating. “Your responsibility is not only to defend the bureau but to push back against the president when he is so clearly wrong, both on the facts and as a matter of principle,” Nadler told Wray.

Wray’s tenure as the new FBI chief would be difficult enough even without the intense scrutiny of the Russia investigation. Since he was sworn in on Aug. 2, the U.S. has experienced two of the deadliest shootings in its modern history and an attack seen as terrorism in Manhattan.

Trump’s weekend tweets created a fresh dilemma for Wray. With his bosses, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Sessions’ deputy, Rod Rosenstein, staying publicly silent, it fell to Wray to defend the agency. But FBI directors traditionally have been low-key and stoic — with Wray’s predecessor, James Comey, a notable exception.

And Trump’s firing of Comey while he led the Russia probe shows what can happen to a director who antagonizes the president.

Wray repeatedly deflected questions about the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, saying the entire matter was under review by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

Republicans repeatedly pressed him on reports that Strzok tweaked the language of the FBI’s finding from “grossly negligent” — the standard laid out in the relevant statute — to “extremely careless,” which was the language that Comey ultimately used in discussing the Clinton case with the public.

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Politics

Voters are casting away

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As of 2 p.m., 4,169 people in Onslow County have voted.

The only Democratic ballot with the highest voter turnout is in Richlands with 380 ballots cast so far. Four other precincts with a Democratic race are Catherine Lake (147), Gum Branch (221), Haws Run (138), and Nine Mile (122).

New River precinct has only seen eight voters so far-because they have Democratic ballots.

Precincts with just Republican ballots have reached higher number than those with ballots for two political parties.

Northwoods is in 2nd with the highest turnout of voters (273), followed by Brynn Marr and East Northwoods, both of which have seen (249) voters.

Vote Count For Each Precinct:

  1. Bear Creek: 241
  2. Brynn Marr: 249
  3. Catherine Lake: 147
  4. Cross Roads: 225
  5. East Northwoods: 249
  6. Folkstone: 166
  7. Gum Branch: 221
  8. Half Moon: 172
  9. Haws Run: 138
  10. Holly Ridge: 86
  11. Hubert: 155
  12. Jacksonville: 81
  13. Mills: 62
  14. Morton’s: 100
  15. New River: 8
  16. Nine Mile: 122
  17. Northeast A: 83
  18. Northeast B: 193
  19. Richlands: 380
  20. Snead’s Ferry: 223
  21. Swansboro: 314
  22. Tar Landing: 169
  23. Verona: 112
  24. West Northwoods: 273
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Voters to choose party nominees in Primary Election Day

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North Carolina voters are choosing their parties’ nominees in dozens of legislative and congressional primary races congested with contestants.

More than 35 current General Assembly members and eight congressional incumbents are trying to advance through Tuesday’s primary elections.

Sitting members of Congress seeking re-election include House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows and Rep. Patrick McHenry, the chief deputy whip in the House. The most threatened GOP incumbents may be Reps. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte and Walter Jones of Farmville.

A little over 4 percent of the state’s 6.9 million registered voters cast ballots before Tuesday through early in-person or traditional absentee voting. Some registrants had no primaries in which to vote because there are no statewide races on Tuesday’s ballot.

You can find voter information including your registered polling precinct and a sample ballot for your area at the North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement website. The polls are open from 6:30am-7:30 pm.

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Politics

Who will be your pick for Onslow County Sheriff on May 8? Vote Now!

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[yop_poll id=”1″]

 

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