WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump slammed FBI Director Christopher Wray after Wray told Congress Russia remains active in its efforts to influence the presidential election by disparaging Joe Biden.
“I did not like his answers yesterday," Trump told reporters.
In congressional testimony on Thursday, Wray said, as in 2016, Russia remains "very active" in efforts to "influence our election," in this case by denigrating Biden, Trump's Democratic opponent.
Trump has frequently tried to discredit evidence that Russia inserted itself into the 2016 election in order to help him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton – efforts that were later the subject of indictments produced by the office of former special counsel Robert Mueller.
In recent weeks, Trump has focused on the intelligence community's claim that China would prefer to see Biden win the election, given Beijing's long-running trade disputes with the Trump administration.
"Obviously, China is at the top of the list," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a campaign trip to Minnesota. "And I think Russia and North Korea and many other countries can be talked about. But China would be at the top of that list, so I don't know why that's not mentioned."
The FBI declined to comment Friday.
As for Wray, Trump later said "the big problem is China and why he doesn’t want to say that...that certainly bothers me.”
Most every public assessment of the threat to election security has emphasized Russia over any other foreign actor, including China. Wray’s testimony about Russia’s “very active” efforts add to the Kremlin’s 2016 work to sway the election to then-candidate Trump.
The subject of Russia election interference in 2016 triggered ongoing tensions between Trump and the FBI, including the president's decision to fire Comey in 2017. That dismissal became the subject of an obstruction of justice investigation by Mueller, though the special counsel's office did not specifically accuse the president of a crime.
Wray told lawmakers that Russia remains "very active" in its effort to disrupt the vote in this election season, primarily by denigrating Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
"The intelligence community's consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our election," Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee, adding that the Kremlin's effort includes sowing discord among Americans.
Wray's assessment tracked an earlier analysis published in August by the National Counter-Intelligence and Security Center, which called out pro-Russia Ukrainian parliamentarian Andriy Derkach for spreading false corruption claims to undermine Biden's bid and the Democratic Party.
"Some Kremlin-linked actors are also seeking to boost President Donald Trump’s candidacy on social media and Russian television," the counter-intelligence analysis concluded.
The earlier report also concluded that China viewed Trump as "unpredictable" and prefers that he not win re-election, while noting that Iran was working to foment division and undermine Trump in advance of the November election.
"We will not tolerate foreign interference in our election," the FBI director said Thursday.
When a lawmaker asked about a recent intelligence assessment that said Russia, China, and Iran are seeking to influence the 2020 election, Wray did not single out the Chinese in his response. The FBI director criticized Chinese espionage throughout the hearing, but not in terms of the 2020 election and Biden.
Right after his testimony, Trump mocked Wray on Twitter: "But Chris, you don’t see any activity from China, even though it is a FAR greater threat than Russia, Russia, Russia. They will both, plus others, be able to interfere in our 2020 Election with our totally vulnerable Unsolicited (Counterfeit?) Ballot Scam. Check it out!"
On Friday, Biden defended Wray, telling reporters during a campaign stop in Minnesota that Wray "told the exact truth." The Democratic nominee declined to discuss Wray's testimony at length because "I'm not gonna put him in the crosshairs of the president."
Trump also criticized Wray over the FBI director's testimony that antifa is an ideology and not an organization, contradicting Trump's claim that it should be declared a "terrorist organization" engaged in attacks on cities.
"These are thugs, these are bad people," Trump said Friday, adding "they are anarchists and they are agitators and they are looters and rioters and everything else."
In his congressional testimony, Wray said that individuals are responsible for that kind of violence, not antifa: “It’s not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology.”
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Trump attacks FBI Director Wray over Russia election testimony