New Trump FBI pick represented Christie in Bridgegate case

Lauren Perry
June 8, 2017

Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerDem senator: FBI Director announcement clearly an attempt to "distract" from hearings Ex-DHS chief: "I know of no such evidence" Russian Federation altered vote counts Intel hearing becomes curtain-raiser for Comey MORE (D-Va.) said Wednesday the timing of President Trump's new FBI director appointment - one day before former FBI Director James Comey is set to publicly testify - is an attempt to "distract attention" from the hearings.

In 2015, Wray signed a letter from his law firm to the Senate judiciary committee endorsing Yates to become deputy attorney general.

The timing suggests the White House is interested in trying to turn the page on Comey's era at the FBI before the former director testifies to a Senate committee on whether Trump pressured him to ease off his investigation of Russian meddling in last year's election and whether anyone on his campaign colluded in that effort.

While Wray will face close questioning in his Senate confirmation hearing, his background as a Justice Department professional may give him an advantage.

The president hailed Wray's "impeccable credentials" in an early-morning tweet.

A top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch, said Mr Wray had "impeccable credentials, vast experience and strong support across the board".

Wray started with the Department of Justice as the assistant USA attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, serving from 1997 to 2001.

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

Trump fired Yates, who was serving as acting attorney general, shortly after he took office for refusing to enforce the travel ban. Trump has said that he fired Comey partially because of the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

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At the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security gathering in Singapore last weekend, Harris operated behind closed doors as U.S. Navy passed a destroyer near a Chinese-held artificial islet in the contested sea's Spratly chain.

He also represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the "Bridgegate" investigation into lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.

Mr Wray is a traditional choice for the job. Trump had entertained current and former politicians for the role. With the many threats that the USA faces domestically and internationally, we need a strong FBI Director.

The White House and its allies have been looking for ways to offset that potentially damaging testimony and have been working on strategies aimed at undermining Comey's credibility.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell praised Wray, saying his "impressive credentials make him more than ready for the sober task of leading the Federal Bureau of Investigation 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 overseas". Mr Wray works at the King & Spalding law firm.

The American Civil Liberties Union was less enthusiastic, issuing a statement saying that Wray's history, which includes work by his firm on behalf of the Trump family, "makes us question his ability to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the independence, even-handed judgment, and commitment to the rule of law that the agency deserves".

Former colleagues described Wray as serious and professional.

Christie, who has informally advised Trump, was not charged in the bridge case.

From 1997 to 2001, Wray was an assistant US attorney in northern Georgia.

Other reports by VgToday

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