FBI director visited ADKs

Wray would not extend Senate hearing, flew to Adirondacks

Eight-year-old Christopher Wray stands on the summit of Mount Marcy on Aug. 20, 1975. (Photo courtesy of the Wray family)

LAKE CLEAR — FBI Director Christopher Wray was testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee on a number of issues on Aug. 4 when it appears he heard the call of the wild.

Flight logs show the top man in the FBI may have set a hard deadline for the grilling session with Senators last week to hop a flight on a private FBI jet to land at the Adirondack Regional Airport for a long weekend, upsetting some senators.

Wray, who lives in Atlanta, spent the summers of his youth in the Adirondacks, first at the AuSable Club, then at a family camp on Upper AuSable Lake. His father is former state Adirondack Park Agency Commissioner Cecil Wray, who now lives in New York City.

“Hearing logistics are worked out with congressional committees in advance,” the FBI National Press Office wrote in an email to the Enterprise. “Director Wray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was consistent with the prearranged format and timing, and was also consistent with the length of the Committee’s 2021 oversight hearing.”

After the committee returned from a break amid questioning that afternoon, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, asked Wray to stay at the hearing for an additional 21 minutes.

“We just heard a half hour ago about your having to leave at 1:30,” Grassley said. “We were going to have seven-minute first rounds and three-minute second rounds. I’ve got seven people on my side of the aisle want their additional three minutes. Is there any reason we couldn’t accommodate them for 21 minutes?”

Wray declined.

“Senator, I had a flight that I’m supposed to be high-tailing it to outta here, and I had understood that we were going to be done at 1:30, so that’s how we ended up where we are,” Wray said. “I’m running a little tight.”

Wray said he tried to take his break as fast as possible. Grassley said he took more than five minutes. Wray laughed.

“This is a tight ship, Mr. Director,” committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said, also laughing.

Durbin said he never mentioned a second round, but said he wanted to accommodate as many people as he could.

The testimony continued for another hour and 15 minutes and ended at 1:30 p.m., after a full three and a half hours.

As the committee left session, Wray shook Grassley’s hand and shared a word, which was picked up by the microphones.

“So you’ve got other business?” Grassley asked.

“Yeah,” Wray said.

Flight logs from the air traffic tracking website FlightAware show a Gulfstream 550 jet using an FBI callsign took off from Washington D.C. at 4:45 p.m. A little over an hour and 518 miles later, it landed in SLK.

The plane then returned to Washington D.C. for four days. It flew back to the Adirondacks on Monday before shortly turning around and heading back to the nation’s capital.

The plane also flew between Washington D.C. and SLK twice in June, on June 2 and 5, according to flight records. This plane has been used by a string FBI directors for personal travel, which has been controversial for many years.

The hearing

These committee hearings are held with the purpose of making the FBI department more transparent, and having its leader answer to questions from elected leaders. Wray has appeared before this committee three times in the past two years.

This time, he was asked about many issues, some answers to which politicians and political pundits found unsatisfactory. An opinion writer for the New York Post accused Wray of dodging questions.

Wray was asked about his department’s alleged botching of the sexual abuse case brought against USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar, and the DOJ’s ruling that juries can’t convict FBI agents for their alleged mishandling of this investigation. Other senators asked him why the FBI did not further investigate complaints about Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing.

Some senators appeared unhappy with his answers about if Afghan refugees are considered significant security threats after the U.S. military pulled out of Afghanistan last year; that he did not call immigration at southern border a “national security threat” as some Senators wanted him to; that he did not call the Russia collusion investigation a “hoax” as some wanted him to; that he did not say the contents Hunter Biden’s laptop wasn’t “Russian disinformation” as some wanted him to; and that he did not do more to provide security for Supreme Court justices who were peacefully protested this summer.

He also answered questions about illegal guns, violence and the FBI’s failure to prevent the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

Nature calling

Wray has spent many summer days in the Adirondacks, fewer since he became the director of the FBI, but he has still made time for the mountains, even with such a busy, high-profile job.

Cecil said in 2017 that Chris had tried to become a 46er — hiking the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, but he never made it in his youth. In 2017, Cecil estimated that his son had hiked around 30 of the High Peaks

In recent years, he has visited the Adirondacks several times, and Cecil had said he was always possibly hiking or trout fishing in the AuSable River.

Cecil said in 2017 that he was a lifelong Democrat and his son, an “ardent Republican.”

Wray was under fire from supporters of former president Donald Trump on Tuesday after the FBI raided a Trump residence in Florida, allegedly in search of missing classified documents they say he had removed from the U.S. Capitol.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today