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DeSantis pledges to fire Chris Wray, says FBI, DOJ have 'lost their way'

Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis launched his 2024 presidential primary bid on Wednesday, following it up with an interview on 'Fox News Tonight.'

Newly-declared Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis vowed Wednesday to dismiss FBI Director Christopher Wray, saying the bureau and the Justice Department have "lost their way" and allowed themselves to be "weaponized" against Americans.

In his first interview since formally jumping into the 2024 race, DeSantis, the second-term governor of Florida and former U.S. House member, said that he would shake up the leadership at the DOJ in the wake of continuing bombshell reports of politicization brought to the fore by Congress and select media outlets.

"No, I would not keep Chris Wray as director of the FBI. There'll be a new one on day one," DeSantis told Fox News' Trey Gowdy on "Fox News Tonight."

Wray, a Trump appointee who previously served as then-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's attorney during his George Washington BridgeGate scandal, has been widely criticized as the bureau continues being accused of politicking.


Most recently, three FBI employees testified before Congress they were retaliated against for questioning the January 6 narrative, while the bureau has also taken criticism over its purported threat-tagging of school board meeting attendees, and raids on individuals like pro-life activists and longtime Republican consultant Roger Stone.

DeSantis said he would nominate an attorney general with a "strong backbone" who must be able to do his job in the face of attacks by left-wing media like the Washington Post and New York Times.

"You're going to get attacked by CNN. And you've got to wear that as a badge of honor. You can't try to please polite society because otherwise you'll just get captured by the institution itself," he added.

"And I think the DOJ and FBI have lost their way. I think that they've been weaponized against Americans who think like me and you. And I think that they become very partisan."


DeSantis suggested the FBI and other agencies have been able to become partisan is because Republican presidents still subscribe to the idea they are "independent" when in fact they are executive branch agencies.

"They answer to the elected president of the United States. So as president, you have a responsibility to be involved in holding those agencies accountable, clearing out people who are not doing the job, and making sure that they're doing the people's business, and they're not abusing their authority," he said

Appearing to reference the Twitter Files scandal, DeSantis pledged that any Justice Department employees found to be "collud[ing]" with a tech official to censor information would be immediately fired.

Pivoting to Florida's battle against woke agendas in education and commerce, DeSantis said the proverbial "woke mind virus is a form of cultural Marxism."

Wokeism, he added, is "an attack on the truth." 

"And because it's a war on truth, I think we have no choice but to wage a war on ‘woke’."


A president should therefore be unafraid to speak truth to power, even if it is socially uncomfortable in some precincts, as presenting empirical facts against woke attestations can be, DeSantis argued.

The battle against wokeism also extends broader into commerce, where mutual funds and other large financial firms are prioritizing ESG (Environmental, Social Governance) over fiduciary priorities. The governor said a president should push back against that as well.

In terms of education, DeSantis noted the federal government is involved in the accreditation of postsecondary institutions, so it may be up to the accreditors to take a stand against wokeism and DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) curricula.

"We're going to accredit you if you are a colorblind university – if you're not trying to divide people on the basis of race. So there are different tools at your disposal. It's not the same as a governor. But I think you can have an impact across a wide variety of different areas," he said.

In response to NAACP President Derrick Johnson announcing a "travel warning" for Black people intending to visit Florida, DeSantis questioned why the group isn't focused on real threats to minority communities, like schools where zero or single-digit percentages of students are classified within grade-level aptitude or neighborhoods wracked by violent crime.


He specifically pointed to Baltimore, Maryland's largest city, where the schools are infamously underperforming and the city continues to suffer under high crime rates.

A recent FOX-45 report from the Charm City found 23 Baltimore schools had zero students proficient in math, while the Old Line State itself was ranked the second-most educated state in the country.

"Florida's crime rates are at a 50-year low," he said. "Compare that to places like Chicago or Baltimore – I don't hear the NAACP talking about that."

Florida encourages school choice, he added, alleging Baltimore's education system is largely determined by the will of teachers unions.

"We're second in 3rd and 4th grade math and reading, respectively, because parents have options. You go to Baltimore or Chicago, some of these kids are more likely to get shot than to actually have a high quality education," he said.

"And I can tell you, since I've been governor, some of the people who've contributed to our record tourism have been board members of the NAACP. How do I know? Because they put pictures of their Florida vacation on their social media accounts. So this is an attempt to create a phony narrative."

"But I think people are on to this stuff. They know what it is, and they take it with a grain of salt, and they dismiss it."

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