In the barrage of headlines about President Donald Trump and Russian meddling in the 2016 election, the head of the FBI sat down and offered his thoughts Wednesday on an assortment of issues, including the president's meeting this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
FBI Director Christopher Wray, in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, was very clear that Russia "continues to engage in malign influence efforts to this day."
Trump's response to a similar question was criticized Wednesday after he appeared to say "no" that Russia was no longer targeting the U.S. That comment, along with others he made after a meeting with Putin on Monday, have been the center of controversy.
Wray smiled and dismissed two ideas from Putin, which Trump called "interesting." The first was to have American investigators go to Russia to observe interviews of wanted suspects, including those indicted in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
"I never want to say never, but it’s certainly not high on our list of investigative techniques," Wray said.
He also said Putin's other idea, to have Russians come to the U.S. to observe questioning of suspects wanted there, was "even lower on our list of investigative techniques," leading to laughter in the crowd.
Wray also took on the blistering Inspector General's report on the bureau's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, calling it "fair" and explaining the biggest lesson he learned was that no matter how big or small an investigation is, the bureau always has to stick to the same policies, something that's come into play recently throughout the Trump administration.
He said he is "unwilling to budge" on protecting the FBI's sources and methods in its investigations, even with mounting pressure from Congress to delve into details of the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling.
Wray called Mueller a "straight shooter" and said the Russia investigation he's leading is "not a witch hunt," a term Trump has famously used on more than one occasion.
One question Wray didn't fully answer: whether he had threatened to resign.
Holt asked Wray about a report in January that stated he'd threatened to resign amid pressures to fire then Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
"I’m a low-key, understated kind of guy, but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of," Wray said. "I’ll leave it at that."