Trump's FBI nominee passes committee, heads to full Senate
© Greg Nash

The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Christopher Wray, President Trump's nominee to lead the FBI, on Thursday.

The move paves the way for the full Senate to take up Wray's nomination before senators leave for the summer recess, with GOP leadership wanting to vote on him before the mid-August break.

Under committee rules, any one senator could have blocked a committee vote on Wray's nomination until next week. But Democrats signaled ahead of the meeting that they would let him move forward.

"I'm satisfied that he has the qualifications and independence [needed]," Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinProgressives fume as Dems meet with Brett Kavanaugh GOP lawmaker calls on FBI to provide more info on former Feinstein staffer It’s possible to protect national security without jeopardizing the economy MORE (D-Calif.) said Thursday ahead of the vote. "I do not intend to request that his nomination be held over."

Democrats have been largely supportive of Wray's nomination after sharply criticizing Trump for his surprise decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey.

The vote on Wray comes after Trump took new shots at the FBI and Justice Department investigations into Russia's presidential election interference and potential ties between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

Democrats repeatedly referenced a recent New York Times article, saying it sparked new concerns about the president. 

"We find ourselves at an important moment in history. ... The statements made by the president yesterday to The New York Times have shaken me and many across America," said Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDems seize on Kavanaugh emails to question role in terrorism response Trump gives thumbs up to prison sentencing reform bill at pivotal meeting Overnight Defense: Officials make show of force on election security | Dems want probe into Air Force One tours | Pentagon believes Korean War remains 'consistent' with Americans MORE (Ill.) — the No. 2 Senate Democrat. 

Feinstein quoted that article during the meeting, relaying Trump's rehashing of an alleged conversation with Comey on a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

"He said I said 'hope' — 'I hope you can treat Flynn good' or something like that. I didn’t say anything," Trump told The New York Times.

"Even if I did, that’s not — other people go a step further. I could have ended that whole thing just by saying — they say it can’t be obstruction because you can say: It’s ended. It’s over. Period," the president added.

Feinstein added that she is "hopeful" Wray will be willing to push back against Trump, saying we "need leaders with steel spines, not weak knees."

"He committed to doing the job by the book and without any regard to partisan political influence," she said.