President Trump on Wednesday announced he will nominate Christopher A. Wray to serve as the new FBI director.
"I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI," the president tweeted early Wednesday morning.
"Details to follow."
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
Wray would succeed James Comey, whom Trump fired last month amid heated tensions over his bureau’s investigation into Trump's campaign’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as Russia's attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
The announcement comes a day before Comey is scheduled to testify in a highly anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about whether Trump attempted to pressure him to ease off the probe.
Wray’s selection may be an attempt to reassure those who believe Trump’s handling of Comey and the Russia inquiry has politicized the FBI, which prides itself on its independence.
Wray has an extensive background in federal law enforcement. Trump at one point was considering former elected officials for the job, which has typically been filled by former federal prosecutors or FBI officials.
Wray served as an assistant attorney general who oversaw the criminal division under former President George W. Bush before entering private practice at the firm King & Spalding. His Justice Department tenure overlapped with Comey’s stint as deputy attorney general.
Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsOvernight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability Stanford professors ask DOJ to stop looking for Chinese spies at universities in US Overnight Energy & Environment — Democrats detail clean electricity program MORE said Wray possesses “all the gifts necessary to be a great director of the FBI.”
“The president asked us to look for an FBI Director who has integrity, who understands and is committed to the rule of law, and who is dedicated to protecting the American people from crime, gangs, and terrorists,” Sessions said in a statement. “We have found our man in Chris Wray.”
Even some Trump’s critics applauded his decision to pick Wray.
“Good choice. Oversaw Enron case, which I also spent years of my life on. He was very fair. I endorse,” tweeted Norm Eisen, former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTo Build Back Better, improving Black women's health is a must Rahm Emanuel has earned M since leaving Chicago's city hall: report 60 years after the Peace Corps, service still brings Americans together MORE’s chief ethics lawyer.
But during his confirmation process, Wray will likely face scrutiny over his ties to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), whom he represented in the Bridgegate scandal.
Three of Christie’s top aides were found guilty of federal offenses for shutting down the George Washington Bridge as retribution against a local mayor. But Christie, a close Trump ally, was not charged.
Another partner at Wray’s firm serves as an ethics adviser to Trump’s personal trust, which holds his business assets. That connection could also come up in Senate conformation hearings.
Wray could also face questions about how he plans to lead a bureau that was rocked by Comey’s firing.
Days after Comey was dismissed, bombshell news reports revealed that Trump pressured Comey to drop an investigation into ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. That prompted the Justice Department to name former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the Russia probe.
The former top Justice Department official has shown an independent streak in the past. He reportedly offered to resign, along with Comey and Mueller, if President George W. Bush reauthorized a controversial wiretapping program.
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but before you guys all pull the rip cords, please give me a heads‑up so I can jump with you,” Wray told Comey at the time, according to Washingtonian magazine.
Wray’s selection caps a winding monthlong search by Trump for a new FBI director. Trump once considered former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) as his top choice, even though he had no federal law enforcement background. Lieberman later withdrew from consideration after blowback from members of Congress.
Trump also considered more conventional picks, including former FBI official Richard McFeely, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe and former Transportation Security Agency Director John Pistole.
The president met with Wray and Pistole last Tuesday at the White House. Asked if either man was the top choice for the job, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: "The president is the ultimate decision-maker. And when he makes a decision as to who he believes is best to lead the FBI, he will let us know."
Trump also weighed nominating a pair of elected Republicans, former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and former Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.), who both served as FBI agents.
Rebecca Savransky contributed.
— Updated at 11:29 a.m.