President Donald Trump has tapped former federal prosecutor Christopher Wray to be the next FBI director. Wray has prosecuted and defended white-collar criminals and is best known for representing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the Bridgegate investigation.
Wray must now be confirmed by the Senate. Along with his predecessor James Comey, Wray served in the Department of Justice in the George W. Bush administration. He also worked on the Enron fraud case in the early 2000s.
Trump’s announcement came the day before Comey was to testify before a Senate committee. Comey’s lawyer has released his opening statement, in which he says that Trump told him, “I expect loyalty.” He says also that during a February 14 meeting, Trump asked him to back off from an investigation into ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties with Russia.
Trump has called Wray “an impeccably qualified individual who will serve as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity.”
The White House has not fully explained why Trump fired Comey while during an investigation into whether Trump campaign officials colluded with the Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign.
A former deputy under Wray spoke to NBC News, praising Wray and his nomination as the next Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “Chris is a Republican and he served in a Republican administration,” said John Malcolm, who served under Wray in 2003 and 2004. “But he’s quite aware that the FBI serves all Americans—not just Republicans or Democrats. He has a stiff backbone and I have no doubt that he will stand up for what’s right.”
Wray has previously been scrutinized by Senate leaders. In 2003, he was asked to testify during an investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame. The Plame case left a mark on the Bush White House and ensnared White House officials including Scooter Libbey. Wray has contributed financially to Republican candidates, but the Federal Election Commission confirms that he has not made any contributions to President Trump.