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National Govt & Politics
Trump nominee to head FBI vows need for independence
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Trump nominee to head FBI vows need for independence

Trump nominee to head FBI vows need for independence
Photo Credit: Jamie Dupree

Trump nominee to head FBI vows need for independence

Repeatedly stressing the need for the FBI Director to be independent of partisan influence and political favoritism, President Donald Trump's choice for FBI Director, Christopher Wray, vowed to a Senate committee that he would insure the agency is not being pulled by by either major political party.

"I will never allow the FBI's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period. Full stop," Wray said before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law," Wray added.

"Anybody who thinks that I would be pulling punches as the FBI director sure doesn't know me very well," Wray said in his opening statement at his confirmation hearing.

"I pledge to be the leader that the FBI deserves, and to lead an independent bureau, that will make every American proud," Wray added.

Wray said that he had not had any discussions with White House officials about the firing of former FBI chief James Comey, who was axed by President Trump just over two months ago, a firing that Mr. Trump later indicated was spurred in part by the FBI probe of how Russia interfered in the 2016 election for President.

Asked about the Russia investigation being led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller, Wray said he would support Mueller in any way possible.

"I would consider an effort to tamper with Director Mueller's investigation to be unacceptable and inappropriate and would need to be dealt with very sternly," Wray said.

"No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point in this process, and I sure as heck didn't offer one," Wray said when asked about his nomination by Mr. Trump.

Asked about the issue of Russian interference, Wray left no doubt that he believes Moscow was trying to meddle.

"I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community," Wray said, as he expressed support for the Special Counsel investigation of the matter.

"I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt," Wray added.

That quote came when Wray was pressed on a number of subjects by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

At the start of the hearing, Wray received bipartisan support from former Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), who has worked with Wray at the Atlanta law firm of King and Spalding.

"Chris understands that the FBI, the Department of Justice, a loyalty to the Constitution, our laws and our nation, and not to any particular office holder," Nunn said.

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News

  • The price of vaping in Washington could soon skyrocket if a proposed 60 percent tax is passed by lawmakers. >> Read more trending news  'It's like being told, ‘We're going to put a new tax on your favorite pizza.’ No! Don't do that!” said Jim Music. Washington lawmakers introduced HB 1873. It would add a 60 percent tax to vapor products, which is similar to tobacco, KIRO-TV reported. Currently vape isn’t taxed. Vapor store owner Joshua Baba said vape is different than tobacco and the price hike would force many shops to close their doors. 'Sixty percent, we owe that to the state just all of a sudden? That's crazy. That does put me out of business,” he said. Standing in the rain, Monday afternoon a small group held signs and gathered to protest. “Those kind of numbers are scary to somebody. I go through a couple bottles of vapor juice a week and that's going to double my cost,” said Music. A new Washington State Health Youth survey shows e-cigarettes and vaping are on the rise. Thirty percent of high school seniors said they use vapor products, which is up from 20 percent in 2016. State Rep. Gerry Pollet proposed the House bill. He wants to see the numbers drop and believes a tax is the ticket. “E-cigarettes and vaping products are dirt cheap, you won't believe how cheap they are,' he said. “A pack of cigarettes in the state of Washington, on average, costs about a little more than $8. Vaping the same amount of nicotine will cost you about $2.' Lawmakers believe the tax will drop youth vaping by 25 percent. Others find that hard to believe.  “This tax isn't going to change where the kids are getting it or how they're getting it, but it is going to change, in a negative way, the lives of a lot of shop owners and a lot of product users that are fully in compliance with the law,” said Music. Pollet said the 60 percent tax would eventually raise as much $30 million per year. The money would be used to fund programs that work to prevent teens from vaping.
  • A Monday morning British Airways flight scheduled to fly from London, England, to Dusseldorf, Germany, accidentally went to Edinburgh, Scotland, instead. >> Read more trending news  The error has been attributed to an incorrect flight plan filed by WDL Aviation, which operated the flight on behalf of British Airways, USA Today reported. This led the pilot and cabin crew to believe the flight was bound for Edinburgh. Air traffic controllers followed the same flight plan and saw nothing amiss, British Airways officials told The Associated Press. Zsófia Szabó, a passenger on the flight, told CNN she noticed something may have been amiss when she saw mountains outside the cabin window instead of the “usual German landscape.” A coworker brought up Google Maps on their phone, she said, and noted the plane was in Scotland. 'When we landed there was a bit of a hilarious moment when the flight attendant asked for a show of hands for the people going to Dusseldorf, which turned out to be everyone,' Szabó said. The pilot apologized to passengers, then announced the plane would refuel and head to Dusseldorf. Most passengers didn’t seem mad about the situation and instead found it funny, Szabó said. Why an incorrect flight path was filed remains unclear. 'We are working with WDL Aviation, who operated this flight on behalf of British Airways, to establish why the incorrect flight plan was filed. We have apologized to customers for this interruption to their journey and will deal with them all individually. Customers are on route to Dusseldorf currently,” British Airways spokesman Chip Garner said in a statement. WDL Aviation said they’re also investigating the incident: “We are working closely with the authorities to investigate how the obviously unfortunate mix-up of flight schedules could occur,' said WDL spokesperson Joachim Schöttes. “At no time has the safety of passengers been compromised. We flew the passengers on the flight with number BA3271 to Dusseldorf after the involuntary stopover in Edinburgh.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • In a move that has surprised some, mixed martial arts fighter Conor “The Notorious” McGregor has announced his retirement from the sport via Twitter. >> Read more trending news  “Hey guys quick announcement,” McGregor tweeted late Monday. “I’ve decided to retire from the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art’ today. I wish all my old colleagues well going forward in competition. I now join my former partners on this venture, already in retirement. Proper Pina Coladas on me fellas!” The 30-year-old fighter, originally from Dublin, Ireland, is a two division UFC world champion and two division Cage Warriors World Champion. He’s ranked No. 2 lightweight champion and No. 9 pound for pound champion in the UFC, according to Fox Sports. Yahoo Sports reported the announcement came as a surprise, and that McGregor may “just be trying to get an upper hand in a negotiation.” McGregor appeared Monday on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and made no mention of retiring, MMA Fighting reported. He talked of fighting this summer. “We’re in talks for July,” McGregor told Fallon. “So we’ll see what happens. A lot of politics going on. The fight game is a mad game. But again, like I said, and to my fans, I am in shape and I am ready.” Some fans on Twitter seemed unconvinced of the news. “Last time he said this he fought twice in the next 6 months,” tweeted @BishopSportsNet. UFC hasn’t yet commented on McGregor’s announcement.
  • Now that the Gronk's officially hanging up his cleats -- fans are left wondering what he'll do next. >> Read more trending news  Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced on Instagram that he is retiring from football following the team's Super Bowl LIII win, ending his historic nine-year NFL career, Boston 25 News reported. What he'll do after is up in the air, though some say he might go down the wrestling road. In fact, he has dabbled in it before with an appearance at WrestleMania 33 -- stepping in the ring to help his real-life friend Mojo Rawley during the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. And many fans were hoping to see Gronk at TD Garden on Monday night, where WWE Raw was taking place. He did not make an appearance, but fans in Boston are excited to see what he'll take on next regardless a cameo at the Garden.  'Oh yeah he’s an entertainer,' said Patriots fan, Josh Lima. 'He’s funny, you know he’s either gonna be an actor or wrestler.' Public relations executive and Emerson professor, David Gerzof Richard, thinks Gronk sure has the personality and brand for it in his post-NFL career. 'He has his own brand of being the happy-go-lucky tight end, it's really leveraging that and with various people he is interacting with on both Instagram and Twitter and leveraging into what comes next,' said Richard.  Richard says sports stars in previous decades didn't have the social media star power -- or social media at all -- to build off of like Gronk. 'The worst thing he could do is go silent... and that is something I don't think we are going to see from Rob Gronkowski,' adds Richard. And his fans certainly hope he'll find a way to stay successful in the public eye. 'I think he should go into movies because he's a pretty funny guy and people look up to him,' said Patriots fan, Donte Tyler from Stoughton. Another fan thinks so too, and she thinks comedy would be the only way to go.  'I don't know about a serious ... maybe in a comedy or something,' another fan said. 'What would it be called? Maybe Adam Sandler and Gronk go on vacation.' As for the wresting, a WWE spokesperson gave no comment on any potential deals or announcements.
  • A metro Atlanta family said an airline crew told their two sons they’d have to get off a plane after a dispute over one of the boys’ severe peanut allergies, WSB-TV reported. >> Read more trending news  The boys were traveling from Atlanta to Manila, where their father is based on a temporary job, according to the news station. Rakesh Patel said his 15-year-old and 16-year-old sons were traveling by themselves after visiting their sick grandfather. The family told WSB-TV they let Delta Air Lines know ahead of time that the teen had a peanut allergy. Delta made sure that on the first leg of the flight, from Atlanta to Seoul, no peanuts were served, WSB reported.  However, things were different on the second leg of their flight. When the boys went to board their flight from Seoul to Manila on Delta’s skyteam partner Korean Air, the boys were told there would be peanuts served on board, the news station reported.  According to the family, the crew said they were not going to deprive other guests of peanuts and presented the teens with two options: deal with the peanuts or get off the flight.  When the son with allergies asked for another option, the boys were forcibly removed from the plane and stranded in Seoul, their father confirmed. They took a return flight to Atlanta, the family told WSB. Patel said he filed a complaint with the airline and asked for a refund.  In a statement, Delta apologized to the Patel family for the ordeal, “particularly during what is already a difficult time for them.”  “Delta and our partner Korean Air are communicating with the family and examining the processes surrounding this incident; we will use our findings in our work to create a consistent experience for customers flying Delta and our partner airlines,” the statement said. >> Trending: Giant alligator sneaks up on golfers, lumbers across links, plops down near 17th hole  A statement from Korean Air read, in part: “Korean Air is aware that peanut and food allergies are an industry issue and no airline can guarantee a food allergy-free environment. But we are reviewing ways to deal with this issue in a safe and feasible way. We totally understand the risks faced by passengers with nut and food allergies and will certainly try to accommodate them better in the future.”
  • A giant 9-foot alligator surprised golfers Sunday at a course in Savannah, Georgia, when it suddenly appeared out of nearby brush and lumbered across the links.  The reptile stopped the game at the Savannah Harbor Club on Hutchinson Island as stunned players gawked and gave the gator plenty of room. >> Read more trending news  One of the golfers captured the encounter on video, including the moment the creature decided to take a rest at the 17th hole. Savannah resident Ed Vance told IslandPacket.com he was getting ready to take a shot onto the 17th green when he heard a loud noise from nearby brush. “We all looked at each other and were asking, ‘What is that noise?’” Vance said. “At first, I thought it was the maintenance crew on the other side of the brush cutting it back or something.”  Then, a huge alligator ambled onto the course, heading for a pond just beyond the 17th hole. Vance said the reptile was so enormous, the sound of its feet hitting the course could be heard as it moved. “I will always remember the sound of his feet when he was walking on the green,” Vance said. “The video doesn’t pick it up, but the ‘thud, thud, thud’ sound was what you would think a dinosaur sounds like. It was surreal.” >> Related: Emotional support alligator visits senior home, is just like a dog, owner says After taking a quick pitstop on the links, the gator made its way to the pond and slithered in. The golf club isn’t too far from a wildlife refuge, so residents in the area are accustomed to seeing alligators and other wild animals, but Vance said he never expected such a giant gator to suddenly interrupt his golf game and he won’t soon forget it.