President Trump announced Wednesday morning via Twitter that former Assistant Attorney General Chris Wray will be nominated as James Comey’s permanent replacement to lead the FBI.
Mr. Wray, a Justice Department official during the George W. Bush administration, led both the DOJ’s criminal and corporate fraud investigation teams starting in the early 2000s and later represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a private lawyer during the infamous Bridgegate scandal.
“I have the utmost confidence in Chris [Wray]. 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 at a press conference last week.
Christie both campaigned with Donald Trump in 2016 and served as the then-Republican presidential nominee’s original White House transition chair.
I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2017
With Comey set to testify in front of the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, the panel’s top Democrat, Mark Warner of Virginia, said the timing of Trump’s announcement is suspicious given controversy surrounding the former FBI director’s Oval Office conversations with the New York businessman.
“Clearly this is an effort by the president to try to distract attention from our hearings today and tomorrow,” Warner told CBS on Wednesday.
Comey formally supports Wray’s nomination, telling the Senate judiciary committee in a formal letter that the former DOJ official is “not only whip-smart, hardworking and possesses indispensable experience as a line prosecutor.”
“The president has chosen wisely in deciding upon a governmental version of hockey’s substitution on the fly. The stakes are too high to have it otherwise,” he continued.
Despite high praise from Republican and law enforcement corners, Wray’s elevation to FBI raises concern regarding his background practicing law. In 2005, Wray became a partner in the Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding, the same firm Bobby Burchfield, the Trump Organization’s ethics adviser works for.
Mr. Burchfield, hired in January, is charged with approving some of the New York real estate company’s business transactions in order to avoid any conflicts-of-interest between the president’s public and private responsibilities.
[Wall Street Journal] [AP] [Photo courtesy Lawrence Jackson/AP via NPR]