WASHINGTON (NYTIMES, BLOOMBERG) - President Donald Trump said on Wednesday (June 7) that he had selected the former federal prosecutor Christopher Wray, a partner at the Washington law firm King & Spalding, to be his new FBI director.
The president revealed his decision in a morning tweet.
The announcement comes a day before the former FBI director James Comey was scheduled to testify about Trump’s attempts to get him to end the bureau’s investigation into his former national security adviser’s contacts with Russia. The action may represent an attempt to inject credibility into an investigation rocked by controversy and accusations of presidential tampering.
Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of politics.
Wray, a former assistant attorney general overseeing the criminal division under President George W. Bush, is likely to allay the fears of FBI agents who worried that Trump would try to weaken or politicise the FBI.
Trump abruptly fired Comey, who had told associates that he felt the president was trying to influence him to drop inquiries that could affect him personally.
The pick caps an extraordinary month in which Trump has been buffeted by his own shifting explanations for why he dismissed the former FBI director, allegations that he shared highly classified information with top Russian officials in the Oval Office and the naming of a special counsel to oversee the investigation into his campaign’s possible ties with Moscow.
The decision was being closely watched not only for who will lead the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, where employees are still reeling from Comey’s firing, but also for signals about how the president will forge ahead amid the swirl of developments set off by the dismissal. Some Democrats have said impeachment proceedings should begin against him.
Trump, who fired Comey without having put in motion a plan to find his successor, conducted a whirlwind search, at one point zeroing in on Joseph I. Lieberman, the former Democratic senator and vice-presidential nominee, as a preferred finalist, even as he considered FBI veterans including Adam S. Lee, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s Richmond, Virginia, field office; Richard A. McFeely, a former senior official; and Andrew G. McCabe, the acting director. Lieberman later withdrew from consideration.
It was during an interview with one of the prospective candidates at the White House that Trump received word of the appointment of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, himself a former FBI director, reflecting the crisis atmosphere that pervaded the president’s selection process and the stakes involved.
Others on Trump’s list had been former Governor Frank Keating of Oklahoma and former Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, both Republicans. Rogers, a former FBI agent, was endorsed by the agents’ association.
Wray represented New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, an early supporter of Trump’s during the 2016 election, in the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal that erupted in 2014, according to NJ.com.
Wray received a law degree from Yale in 1992.