Sen­a­tors back FBI nom­i­nee Wray

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - MARY CLARE JALONICK THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by staff mem­bers of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

WASHINGTON — The Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee has ap­proved the nom­i­na­tion of Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s pick to head the FBI.

Christo­pher Wray’s nom­i­na­tion will now move to the Se­nate floor. The for­mer Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cial won unan­i­mous sup­port from the panel, with sen­a­tors from both par­ties prais­ing his prom­ise at his hear­ing last week never to let pol­i­tics get in the way of the bureau’s mis­sion.

“Be­yond cre­den­tials, I be­lieve Mr. Wray has the right view of the job,” said Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa.

Wray would re­place James Comey, who was fired by Trump in May dur­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sia’s med­dling in the 2016 elec­tion and pos­si­ble ties to Trump’s campaign. The Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence and will hear from Trump of­fi­cials next week at a hear­ing.

In dis­cus­sion be­fore the vote, Democrats said Wray has the qual­i­fi­ca­tions and in­de­pen­dence to lead the bureau.

The top Demo­crat on the panel, Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein of Cal­i­for­nia, said Wray “has the strength and for­ti­tude to stand up and do what it is right when tested.”

She added: “We need lead­ers with steel spines, not weak knees, and I am hope­ful that Mr. Wray will be just such a leader.”

Wray, 50, would in­herit the FBI at a par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing time given the fir­ing of Comey, who was ad­mired within the bureau. At his hear­ing last week, Wray ex­hib­ited his low-key, dis­ci­plined style. He stressed that “any­body who thinks that I would be pulling punches as FBI di­rec­tor sure doesn’t know me very well.”

When Sen. Pa­trick Leahy, D-Vt., said at the hear­ing that he was dis­turbed by Comey’s fir­ing, Wray as­sured sen­a­tors that “no one asked me for any kind of loy­alty oath at any point dur­ing this process, and I sure as heck didn’t of­fer one.”

Comey has tes­ti­fied that Trump asked him for a loy­alty pledge dur­ing a pri­vate din­ner be­fore his dis­missal.

Wray also broke with Trump on the mer­its of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion, say­ing he does not be­lieve a spe­cial coun­sel’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion amounts to a “witch hunt,” as Trump has as­serted.

Wray said at the hear­ing that his loy­alty is to the Con­sti­tu­tion, the rule of law and the mis­sion of the FBI.

AP/J. SCOTT AP­PLE­WHITE

Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa (left) con­fers Thurs­day with Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, D-Calif., at the panel’s hear­ing on Christo­pher Wray, the nom­i­nee to lead the FBI.

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