US President Donald Trump
says he is nominating an official from the George W. Bush administration to replace former FBI director James Comey.
“I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Details to follow.”
A former US assistant attorney general under Bush, Wray oversaw the criminal division of the Department of Justice back then.
He also has close ties with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and represented him in the so-called Bridgegate scandal, where Christie and his team were accused of causing intentional traffic jams on the George Washington Bridge to pressure a local Democratic mayor.
The choice was met with a positive reaction among some Trump critics.
Norm Eisen, former President Barack Obama’s chief ethics lawyer, hailed Wray’s fairness in trials and said he would “endorse” him.
Wray will replace Comey, whom Trump fired last month in the middle of the FBI’s much-debated investigation into a possible collusion between the president’s team and Russia.
Former FBI Director James Comey (Photo by AFP)
He is likely to face scrutiny over a number of issues during his Senate confirmation hearings.
The Bridgegate is one of the main points that senators might bring up. The legal proceedings of the case saw Christie, a close Trump ally, dodge all charges while three of his top aides were found guilty.
Senators might also grill Wray about one of the partners at his firm, who serves as an ethics adviser to Trump’s personal trust.
Wray is also expected to answer tough questions about his plans on leading a post-Comey FBI.
It was revealed after Comey’s firing that Trump had asked him to drop investigations about ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. This prompted the Justice Department to name former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special prosecutor to lead the investigation.
Wray has had close ties with Comey in the past and had even offered to resign along with him and Mueller, if Bush had reauthorized a controversial wiretapping program.
“Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but before you guys all pull the rip cords, please give me a head-up so I can jump with you,” he told Comey then, according to the Washingtonian magazine.
Before Wray, Trump had considered former Senator Joe Lieberman for the top job. But Lieberman withdrew after facing backlash.