Trump Names FBI Chief Nominee
WASHINGTON (AP) — Christopher Wray, a white-collar defense lawyer with a strong law enforcement background who represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the Bridgegate scandal, was announced Wednesday as President Donald Trump’s pick to head the FBI.
In an early morning two-sentence tweet, Trump said he intended to nominate Wray, a high-ranking official in George W. Bush’s Justice Department. That word came one day before the FBI director that Trump fired last month, James Comey, was to testify in public on Capitol Hill for the first time since his dismissal.
Trump, in a statement later Wednesday, called Wray “an impeccably qualified individual.”
“I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the FBI,” Trump said.
Wray said he was honored to be selected.
“I look forward to serving the American people with integrity as the leader of what I know firsthand to be an extraordinary group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to protecting this country,” he said.
Wray rose to head the department’s criminal division in the Bush administration and oversaw investigations into corporate fraud, at a time when Comey was deputy attorney general. Wray took charge of a task force of prosecutors and FBI agents created to investigate the Enron scandal.
He also played an important role after Sept. 11, providing oversight as the FBI and Justice Department shifted their focus to counterterrorism and performing “superbly during the incredibly intense period,” according to the current attorney general, Jeff Sessions.
Sessions said in a statement that Wray “combines a brilliant legal mind, outstanding accomplishments and a proven record of public service.”
Wray is a traditional choice for the job. Trump had considered current and former politicians, including former Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., and some FBI agents worried that Trump would try to politicize the bureau.
Thomas O’Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, said that group looked forward to meeting with Wray and learning about his views on the bureau and the challenges agents face.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wray seemed like “the perfect kind of person” for the important job. Ryan said he favored a “career person” and that Wray “certainly seems to fit that bill.”
Reaction to Wray was slow on Capitol Hill as lawmakers weren’t given advance notice and few in Congress know him. Presidents traditionally give members of the same party a heads up about such an announcement, allowing lawmakers time to prepare positive statements about the nominee.
A top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, said Wray had “impeccable credentials, vast experience and strong support across the board.”
A GOP colleague was more cautious.
“With the many threats that the U.S. faces domestically and internationally, we need a strong FBI director,” said Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford, a member of the Senate intelligence committee. “In the coming weeks, we will evaluate Christopher Wray’s qualifications to lead the FBI and his plans for our security and law enforcement.”