President Donald Trump unveiled on Twitter on Wednesday morning, June 7, 2017, his choice to lead the FBI following his firing of director James Comey in May. Here are five things to know about Christopher Wray.
The Christie connection
Christopher Wray was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s lawyer during the Bridgegate investigation. Two former Christie aides were convicted in the case, but Christie was not charged. "I have the utmost confidence in Chris. He's an outstanding lawyer. He has absolute integrity and honesty, and I think that the president certainly would not be making a mistake if he asked Chris Wray to be FBI director," Christie said last week.
Wray, who was a high-ranking Department of Justice official in the George W. Bush administration, met Christie when he was the U.S. attorney in New Jersey under Bush. They worked together “a lot,” Christie said.
Tweet over Congress' heads
Members of Congress weren’t given a heads-up about President Trump’s pick. Senate Judiciary Commitee Chairman Chuck Grassley’s office learned the news through Trump’s tweet, a spokesman said; that panel oversees the FBI nomination. Grassley called Wray a "suitable candidate." House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wray seems like "the perfect kind of person" for the job.
This will take you back to the aughts. As assistant attorney general, Christopher Wray led the DOJ’s criminal division in the Bush administration from 2003 to 2005 and oversaw investigations into corporate fraud, leading a task force of prosecutors and FBI agents created to investigate the Enron scandal.
A Democrat and Republican's early takes on Wray
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Dela.), who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was encouraged that President Trump’s FBI pick is a veteran of law enforcement "rather than a career in partisan politics, as was rumored over the past several weeks." Coons said it’s critical for the FBI to "have strong, respected, and independent leadership” at this time. He called Wray "a serious and experienced attorney.”
Sen James Lankford (R-Okla.) was more cautious, however. "With the many threats that the U.S. faces domestically and internationally, we need a strong FBI director," said Lankford, who is on 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."
The FBI's independence is front and center because Trump fired James Comey as the bureau's director on May 9 — and said its probe of Russian interference in the election was on his mind when he did it.
Back when Christopher Wray was heading the Department of Justice’s corporate fraud investigations, Comey was deputy attorney general. Now, Trump has announced his choice of Wray to succeed Comey at the FBI one day before Comey’s much-anticipated testimony on Capitol Hill.
“On eve of Comey testimony, a Wray of Hope for @POTUS? This, my friends, is known in the business as counter programming,” tweeted David Axelrod, the former Obama top adviser.