Nom­i­na­tion for FBI

Trump se­lects Christo­pher A. Wray, crim­i­nal de­fense at­tor­ney, for­mer Jus­tice De­part­ment lawyer.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE Dave Boyer con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Less than a month af­ter Pres­i­dent Trump fired FBI di­rec­tor James B. Comey, he used his fa­vorite so­cial me­dia plat­form to an­nounce the nom­i­na­tion of a re­place­ment — Christo­pher A. Wray, a white-col­lar crim­i­nal de­fense at­tor­ney who led the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s Crim­i­nal Divi­sion un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

The an­nounce­ment, is­sued on Twit­ter, came as abruptly as the dis­missal of Mr. Comey, who is set to tes­tify Thurs­day about his tur­bu­lent re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent.

The nom­i­na­tion gar­nered sup­port from Repub­li­cans in Congress as well as for­mer Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cials. But many Democrats ap­peared tepid to quickly stake a po­si­tion on Mr. Trump’s se­lec­tion, with sev­eral in­di­cat­ing they would have to learn more about the nom­i­nee.

Mr. Wray last worked for the Jus­tice De­part­ment in 2005, when he served as as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral in charge of the crim­i­nal divi­sion. In that po­si­tion, which re­quired Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion, he worked closely with the FBI and su­per­vised the DOJ’s work on crim­i­nal cases and its ef­forts to com­bat ter­ror­ism.

Since then, he has worked in pri­vate prac­tice at King & Spald­ing law firm and spe­cial­ized in white-col­lar and reg­u­la­tory mat­ters — re­cently serv­ing as a per­sonal at­tor­ney for Repub­li­can New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dur­ing the “Bridge­gate” scan­dal.

Mr. Wray joined the Jus­tice De­part­ment in 1997 and worked as a prose­cu­tor for the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice for the North­ern Dis­trict of Ge­or­gia un­til he be­gan work at Main Jus­tice as an as­so­ciate deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral in 2001. Dur­ing his time at DOJ, he served on Mr. Bush’s cor­po­rate fraud task force and over­saw the En­ron Task Force.

“Christo­pher Wray’s im­pres­sive cre­den­tials make him more than ready for the sober task of lead­ing the FBI in ful­fill­ing its law en­force­ment and na­tional se­cu­rity mis­sions, es­pe­cially at a time when our coun­try faces so many se­ri­ous threats both at home and abroad,” said Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McConnell.

Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Charles E. Grass­ley, who will over­see Mr. Wray’s con­fir­ma­tion pro­ceed­ings, ex­pressed sim­i­lar sup­port. He said he in­tends to move for­ward with the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings once the com­mit­tee re­ceives the nec­es­sary ma­te­ri­als.

The rank­ing Demo­crat on the com­mit­tee, Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, told Politico that Mr. Wray ap­peared “qual­i­fied” but that she didn’t know “that he has any na­tional se­cu­rity cre­den­tials.”

Other Democrats, like Sen. Mark Warner, said they hoped to learn more about Mr. Wray in the com­ing days.

They weren’t the only ones. The FBI Agents As­so­ci­a­tion held off on an en­dorse­ment of Mr. Wray, with Pres­i­dent Thomas O’Con­nor say­ing the as­so­ci­a­tion’s board looks for­ward to meet­ing with the nom­i­nee.

“As the key stake­holder in this process, it is crit­i­cally im­por­tant that the FBIAA un­der­stands his views on the FBI, spe­cial agents, and the crim­i­nal and na­tional se­cu­rity threats that agents com­bat daily,” Mr. O’Con­nor said.

For­mer and cur­rent Jus­tice of­fi­cials, on the other hand, gushed over Mr. Wray’s nom­i­na­tion.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions called Mr. Wray “a man in whom all Amer­i­cans can have con­fi­dence.”

For­mer Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Larry Thomp­son de­scribed him as “highly ex­pe­ri­enced” and a “su­per smart” lawyer.

“I worked with Chris for a num­ber of years and al­ways had com­plete con­fi­dence in him. He sim­ply doesn’t make mis­takes,” Mr. Thomp­son said. “We are lucky he de­cided to reen­ter pub­lic ser­vice.”

Oth­ers who had been in the run­ning for the FBI po­si­tion — in­clud­ing Ken Wain­stein, a for­mer as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral for the DOJ’s Na­tional Se­cu­rity Divi­sion, and Alice Fisher, who took over the DOJ’s Crim­i­nal Divi­sion af­ter Mr. Wray left the de­part­ment — also had high praise.

But as Mr. Wray’s back­ground comes un­der the mi­cro­scope, any con­nec­tions to the Trump net­work could sig­nal a red flag for those ea­ger to en­sure the next FBI di­rec­tor is com­pletely in­de­pen­dent of the pres­i­dent. His more re­cent work as a white-col­lar de­fense at­tor­ney also could gen­er­ate scru­tiny.

Ear­lier this year, the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion tapped a part­ner at Mr. Wray’s law firm to serve as an in­de­pen­dent ethics ad­viser. Mean­while, Mr. Wray has rep­re­sented Mr. Christie, who served as Mr. Trump’s cam­paign chair­man.

“Christo­pher Wray’s firm’s le­gal work for the Trump fam­ily, his his­tory of par­ti­san ac­tiv­ity, as well as his his­tory of de­fend­ing Trump’s tran­si­tion di­rec­tor dur­ing a crim­i­nal scan­dal makes us ques­tion his abil­ity to lead the FBI with the in­de­pen­dence, even-handed judg­ment, and com­mit­ment to the rule of law that the agency de­serves,” said Faiz Shakir, na­tional po­lit­i­cal di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union.

Mr. Wray also has rep­re­sented a slew of For­tune 100 com­pa­nies un­der state and fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tions, in­clud­ing John­son & John­son, which paid $2.2 bil­lion in a 2013 agree­ment in to re­solve crim­i­nal and civil charges. He also rep­re­sented Credit Suisse AG as it agreed to a $2.6 bil­lion set­tle­ment with the DOJ and New York state fi­nan­cial reg­u­la­tors over al­le­ga­tions it helped U.S. cit­i­zens evade taxes.

Mr. Trump said last month that he wanted to move quickly to name a re­place­ment for Mr. Comey, whom he fired amid the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion and con­nec­tions to the Trump cam­paign.

White House deputy press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said the pres­i­dent had been im­pressed by his cre­den­tials, as well as by “the bi­par­ti­san sup­port he felt that he would get.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Christo­pher A. Wray, a white-col­lar de­fense at­tor­ney, was nom­i­nated to the FBI di­rec­tor po­si­tion Wed­nes­day. Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans sup­ported Pres­i­dent Trump’s pick.

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