FBI Director Chris Wray hints that he considered resigning

ASPEN, Colorado — FBI Director Chris Wray suggested on Wednesday that he has previously threatened to resign — and pushed back against President Donald Trump's recent comments that cast doubt on Russian interference in the election.

"My view has not changed, which is that Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and that it continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day," Wray told NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt at the Aspen Security Forum.

Wray also reaffirmed his position backing the U.S. intelligence community's finding that Russia interfered in the U.S. election.

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FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray sits during a meeting with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 29, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Christopher Wray testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the FBI, is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) meets with Christopher Wray, who U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated to be FBI Director, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 13, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Christopher Wray (L) is greeted by former Senator Sam Nunn as he arrives to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Christopher Wray is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Christopher Wray is seated prior to testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be the next FBI director on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 18: Christopher Wray, President Trump's nominee to lead the FBI walks through the Senate subway at the US Capitol on July 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (L) meets with FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray (R) on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Wray will fill the position that has been left behind by former director James Comey who was fired by President Donald Trump about two months ago. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (L) meets with FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray (R) on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. If confirmed, Wray will fill the position that has been left behind by former director James Comey who was fired by President Donald Trump about two months ago. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 12: Christopher Wray, nominee for FBI Director, testifies during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 12, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JULY 12: Christopher Wray, nominee for FBI Director, prepares for his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing in Dirksen Building on July 12, 2017. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
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Earlier Wednesday, Trump told a reporter "no" when asked whether he believed Russia continued to target the United States — although White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later claimed that the president was simply saying "no" more questions.

When asked if he had threatened to resign, Wray did not explicitly confirm that he had done so.

"There have also been stories that you threatened to resign. Have you ever hit a point on that issue of sources and methods or anything else when you said, this is a line?" Holt asked Wray.

"I'm a low-key, understated guy, but that should not be mistaken for what my spine is made out of. I'll just leave it at that," Wray answered.

The FBI, which has been led by Wray for nearly a year following James Comey's dismissal, has been the target of criticism from Trump and Congressional Republicans for its role in the probes into Hillary Clinton's emails and Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election. Wray has stood up to pressure to fire senior FBI officials and refused to hand over some information related to the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"I think if we start exposing sources and methods, we are setting a dangerous precedent," Wray said.

Axios reported earlier this year that Wray threatened to resign after Attorney General Sessions Jeff Sessions pressured him to fire Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Sessions eventually fired McCabe days before he was eligible for retirement over findings by the Justice Department's Inspector General that McCabe misled investigators about his interactions with a reporter in 2016.

Wray said he has a professional relationship with Trump regardless of the criticism his agency has come under. But, he said, he is often told by strangers: "I just want you to know, we're all praying for you."

He was sworn into the position of FBI Director in August 2017, replacing Comey, whose abrupt firing prompted the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference and possible collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign. Trump has repeatedly called Mueller's probe a witch hunt — a label Wray rejected.

"I do not believe special counsel Mueller is on a witch hunt. I think it's a professional investigation conducted by a man that I've known to be a straight shooter."

Wray said China is the broadest, most challenging, most significant threat to the United States.

"For them it is a whole of state effort. It is economic espionage as well as traditional espionage," Wray said, adding that the threat from China is something that cannot be underestimated.

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