Se­nate con­firms Wray to lead FBI

Vote goes 92-5 for suc­ces­sor to Comey, whom Trump fired

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON — The Se­nate over­whelm­ingly con­firmed Christo­pher Wray to lead the FBI, re­plac­ing James Comey, who was fired by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into pos­si­ble Rus­sian med­dling in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

The vote was 92-5 for Wray, a for­mer high-rank­ing of­fi­cial in Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush’s Jus­tice Depart­ment who over­saw in­ves­ti­ga­tions into cor­po­rate fraud. Wray, 50, in­her­its the FBI at a par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing time given Trump’s oust­ing of Comey, who was ad­mired within the bureau.

“This is a tough time to take this tough job,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said dur­ing Se­nate de­bate of the nom­i­na­tion. “The pre­vi­ous FBI di­rec­tor, as we know, was fired be­cause of the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The for­mer act­ing at­tor­ney general was fired. And we’ve had a slew of other fir­ings through­out the gov­ern­ment over the last few months.”

Act­ing At­tor­ney General Sally Yates was fired in Jan­uary after she re­fused to de­fend the new ad­min­is­tra­tion’s travel ban re­gard­ing refugees and im­mi­gra­tion.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said after the vote, “Chris Wray will bring char­ac­ter and com­pe­tence to a city that is hem­or­rhag­ing pub­lic trust.”

Wray won unan­i­mous sup­port from the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee last month, with Repub­li­cans and Democrats prais­ing his prom­ise never to let pol­i­tics get in the way of the bureau’s mis­sion.

As­sert­ing his in­de­pen­dence at his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, Wray said: “My loy­alty is to the Con­sti­tu­tion and the rule of law. Those have been my guide­posts through­out my ca­reer, and I will con­tinue to ad­here to them no mat­ter the test.”

Trump fired Comey on May 9 in the midst of Comey’s 10-year term as the FBI chief and while the law en­force­ment agency was in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sia’s role in the elec­tion and pos­si­ble ties to Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials.

An­drew McCabe has served as act­ing FBI di­rec­tor dur­ing the nearly three­month in­terim pe­riod.

Wray has worked on white-col­lar crime and reg­u­la­tory cases as a part­ner at the King & Spald­ing law firm. From May 2001 to May 2005, he held var­i­ous high-rank­ing po­si­tions in the Jus­tice Depart­ment, ris­ing to the head of the crim­i­nal di­vi­sion in Sep­tem­ber 2003. He also served as prin­ci­pal as­so­ci­ate deputy at­tor­ney general.

He was a fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor in the U.S. at­tor­ney’s of­fice for the North­ern District of Ge­or­gia from May 1997 to May 2001. Wray more re­cently rep­re­sented New Jer­sey Gov. Chris Christie in the so­called Bridge­gate scan­dal.

Wray is a grad­u­ate of Yale Univer­sity, where he also re­ceived his law de­gree in 1992.

“Mr. Wray pos­sesses the skill, the char­ac­ter and the un­wa­ver­ing com­mit­ment to im­par­tial en­force­ment of the law that we need in an FBI di­rec­tor,” said Sen. Charles Grass­ley, R-Iowa, chair­man of the Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee.

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.”

Com­ment­ing on the vote, Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., said: “To­day’s bi­par­ti­san show of sup­port is in­dica­tive of Wray’s pro­fes­sion­al­ism and com­mit­ment to in­de­pen­dence. I have no doubt the FBI is in good hands with Mr. Wray at the helm.”

Vot­ing against the nom­i­na­tion were five Democrats who have op­posed many of Trump’s nom­i­nees: Kirsten Gil­li­brand of New York, El­iz­a­beth War­ren and Ed Markey of Mas­sachusetts, and Ron Wy­den and Jeff Merkley of Ore­gon.

Wray

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