Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., pressed Wray on his decision to leave the August hearing early during his appearance before the Senate Homeland Security Committee this week, calling his conduct “indefensible.”
Hawley noted that, at the time, Wray had implied to senators that he had to leave early for a “business” obligation. But just three days after the hearing, the New York Post revealed Wray had actually cut the hearing short so he could leave for vacation on the FBI’s official jet.
“The reason that the hearing had to be cut short is because you were flying on a Gulfstream jet for a personal vacation in the Adirondacks,” Hawley said. “Please tell me that’s not accurate.”
Wray deflected at first, saying he cut the hearing short because “we had agreed beforehand on the time and length of it.”
He then added: “As to how I fly — I am required, not only permitted but required, to fly on an FBI plane wherever I go.”
“So you were going on vacation?” Hawley asked.
“I was, yes,” Wray replied.
“So you’ve left a statutorily required oversight hearing in order to go on a personal vacation in the Adirondacks?” Hawley continued.
“I took a flight to go visit my family, as had been previously arranged in conjunction with the leadership of the committee,” Wray responded.
Hawley continued to press Wray on why he had indicated that his early departure in August was work-related.
“The ranking member, Chuck Grassley asked you during the hearing, he said, ‘I assume you must have other business.’ You said, ‘Yes.’ … You said you had a plane to catch, you had somewhere to go, and now we find out it was for vacation?” Hawley asked.
“The reference to other business was not a reference to that day,” Wray claimed. “It was a reference to the following week where Sen. Grassley and I were going to see each other in Iowa when I had other business in Iowa and I did in fact see him then.”
Hawley pointed out that it makes no sense that Wray would need to leave the hearing early for a business meeting that wasn’t scheduled to take place for another week.
House Republicans have also held Wray’s feet to the fire over his August trip, demanding a full breakdown about his personal use of the FBI’s jet and whether he is reimbursing taxpayers for non-official travel.
“In light of a recent report by the New York Post that you left a Senate hearing early to fly on an FBI aircraft for a personal vacation, we have questions about whether you are properly reimbursing federal taxpayers for your personal travel aboard government aircraft,” Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., wrote in a letter to Wray a couple of months ago.