Christopher Wray certainly seems to be enjoying the FBI's private jet

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

FBI Director Christopher Wray certainly gets around. The guy travels often enough that it’s a wonder he finds any time to get back to the office and dispatch armed squads to roust pastors out of their homes at gunpoint in front of their children. But then again, he’s in charge of the nation’s largest federal law enforcement agency, so I’m sure he’s got a lot on his plate. The question surrounding his activities this week, however, has less to do with how often he travels than it does with how he travels. It seems that Wray has been making very liberal use of the FBI’s private jet when he needs to get away from the Beltway. On at least one occasion he used it to head to his family’s vacation home in the Adirondack Mountains. And another series of trips to the Atlanta area is also under scrutiny. The problem is that Congress never authorized that jet for personal use. It’s only supposed to be used for counterterrorism purposes. (NY Post)

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Former and current FBI agents are fuming about Director Christopher Wray’s use of the FBI’s private jet, which originally was intended by Congress only to be used for counterterrorism purposes.

A lot of other Americans would like to know why Wray cut short a Senate oversight hearing on Aug. 4 to fly in the FBI jet to his family holiday destination in the Adirondacks, after telling Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) that he had “business” to attend to.

Republican members of Congress sent a formal letter to Wray on Aug. 15 asking whether the flight was in “compliance with the applicable federal regulations and requirements” and whether he is “properly reimbursing federal taxpayers for your personal travel aboard government aircraft.”

As the linked report indicates, current and former FBI agents have referred to these pricey jaunts as a form of embezzlement. Congressional Republicans are asking whether or not Wray has been reimbursing the taxpayers for “your personal travel” on a plane owned by those same taxpayers.

Publicly available flight-tracking software reveals that the FBI jet has made trips from Washington to Atlanta, Georgia twice per month on average since June. No reason for those trips has been offered yet, but Wray’s wife is from an influential Georgia family in that region. Also, he worked there for many years both for a private sector law firm and for the US Attorney’s Office in the region.

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But perhaps we’re being too judgemental about this. For all we know, Christopher might have been tracking down conservative domestic terrorists who oppose the current administration’s immigration policies in the Adirondacks. The Atlanta area could be a hotbed of families who object to drag shows in their children’s kindergarten classes and had the nerve to show up to a school board meeting to complain. Those are the sort of people that the FBI clearly needs to get under control quickly, and there are few faster ways to manage the feat than using a Gulfstream G550.

All joking aside, this just seems so typical of this administration that it’s nauseating. Who cares if Congress only authorized the purchase, maintenance, and operation of that Gulfstream for official counterterrorism activities? It’s a private jet that’s just idling its time at a hangar and Chris Wray is the man in charge now. Why shouldn’t he order up some bubbly and shrimp cocktails so he can travel in style and avoid mingling with the unwashed masses at the airports?

In addition, as the linked article notes, Wray may need to make the most of his time in charge over the next 24 months or so. If the Democrats lose the White House in 2024, Christopher Wray’s job longevity after the new President is sworn in will likely be measured in minutes at most.

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David Strom 6:40 PM | April 18, 2024
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