The Latest: FBI director defends agency amid Trump criticism

FBI Director Christopher Wray is sworn in during a House Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Carolyn K

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on FBI Director Christopher Wray's testimony to Congress (all times local):

10:35 a.m.

FBI Director Chris Wray is defending his law enforcement agency amid persistent criticism from President Donald Trump.

Wray testified Thursday that "there is no finer institution than the FBI, and no finer people than the men and women who work there and are its very beating heart."

Wray spoke during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing.

The comments come days after Trump took to Twitter to slam the FBI as a biased institution whose reputation is in "tatters."

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10:30 a.m.

A Republican lawmaker is worried about what he calls political bias in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia.

Republican congressman Bob Goodlatte (GUD'-lat) of Virginia chairs the House Judiciary Committee. Goodlatte is responding to revelations that an FBI agent was removed from Mueller's team because of anti-Trump texts.

At a Thursday hearing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, Goodlatte says, "It is absolutely unacceptable for FBI employees to permit their own political predilections to contaminate any investigation."

He says even the appearance of impropriety will "devastate the FBI's reputation."

President Donald Trump recently criticized the FBI on Twitter as a biased institution whose reputation is in "tatters."

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3:42 a.m.

Christopher Wray faces a tough test four months into his leadership of the FBI: He must defend America's top law enforcement agency against blistering attacks from President Donald Trump without putting his own job at risk.

The competing pressures Wray faces will be on display Thursday when he testifies before the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats may push him to respond forcefully to Trump's weekend tweets calling the FBI a biased agency whose reputation is "in Tatters — worst in History!" and urging Wray to "clean house."

Some Republicans will likely echo Trump's concerns about what they see as political bias in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible coordination between Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Like Trump, they have seized on revelations that an FBI agent was removed from Mueller's team because of anti-Trump text messages.