Trump Names Christopher Wray, Chris Christie's Lawyer, as New FBI Director


Wray, a former assistant attorney general and longtime private attorney, was announced as President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Trump, in a statement later Wednesday, called Wray "an impeccably qualified individual".

He now works at King & Spalding as a litigation partner, specializing in the defense of individuals and corporations in white-collar criminal cases - and even represented New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie during the "Bridgegate" investigation into lane closures at the George Washington Bridge. While two former Christie aides were convicted of plotting to close lanes of the bridge as punishment to a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse the Republican governor, Christie was never charged and denied any wrongdoing.

Wray rose to head the Justice Department's criminal division in the Bush administration and oversaw investigations into corporate fraud, at a time when Comey was deputy attorney general.

Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said they need to learn why Trump is "trying to back down this investigation".

Matthew Miller, a Justice Department spokesman during the Obama administration, said in a tweet that Wray is "probably the best choice from the WH short list".

Wray was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in 2003 to lead the Justice Department's criminal division, where he oversaw several high-profile investigations, from the Enron scandal to the Justice Department's response to terrorism in the wake of 9/11.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Wray seemed like "the flawless kind of person" for the important job. The qualifications include a run in federal courts and a stint in the Department of Justice, though his career since has been rooted in the private sector litigating white-collar cases with the worldwide firm King & Spalding. Trump had considered current and former politicians, including former Sen. Ryan said he favored a "career person" and that Wray "certainly seems to fit that bill". A senior member of the committee, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, immediately praised Wray, saying he has "impeccable credentials, vast experience, and strong support across the board".

He will be nominated to replace James Comey, who Trump fired abruptly in May while he was investigating Russian Federation meddling in the 2016 election and whether Trump associates colluded with the Kremlin.

Since leaving the DOJ, Wray's career with King & Spalding has been focused on representing large companies and institutions in investigations involving U.S. Attorney's Offices across the country. Christie said at a news conference last week that he worked together with Wray "a lot".

"I have the utmost confidence in Chris", Christie told the Press last week. He was among the top Justice Department officials who planned to resign en masse with Comey and then-FBI Director Robert Mueller after top White House officials attempted in 2004 to reinstate a warrantless domestic surveillance program that the Justice Department had ruled illegal.

Christie's office disclosed a year ago that Wray had the missing cellphone that was used by the governor and contained about a dozen text messages that Christie exchanged with a former staffer during a legislative hearing related to the bridge in 2013.

Early in his career, Wray, a 1992 graduate from Yale Law School, was an assistant USA attorney in Georgia.

Mr Ryan said he favoured a "career person" to take over the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Mr Wray "certainly seems to fit that bill".