President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will nominate former Department of Justice official Christopher A. Wray to take over as FBI director.
Wray, if confirmed by the Senate, will replace former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired in May.
Wray, who attended Yale University for undergraduate and law school, was nominated by former President George W. Bush to be the assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. He served in that position from 2003 to 2005.
Wray began his career in public service by clerking for Judge J. Michael Luttig on the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1992. Luttig’s judicial philosophy was similar to that of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 1993, Wray left the public sector and began working in private practice in Atlanta. Four years later, he joined the Justice Department once again to work in the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. In 2001, he began working for the main division of the Justice Department as associate deputy attorney general. He eventually became principal associate deputy attorney general.
In 2004, Wray was, along with Comey and then-FBI Director Robert Mueller, one of the top Justice Department officials who threatened to resign after the Bush administration tried to bring back the NSA domestic surveillance program that the organisation found illegal.
Following his service at the Justice Department, which ended in 2005, Wray went back to private practice and specialised in white collar investigations. Currently, he is a partner at the law firm King & Spalding and was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s lawyer during the Bridgegate trial in which two of the governor’s former aides were found guilty of scheming to shut down gates on the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against a Democratic mayor.
Throughout his career in private practice, Wray also defended Fortune 100 companies embroiled in various investigations. Throughout his career, Wray donated thousands of dollars to exclusively Republican candidates and now works closely with Bobby Birchfield, Trump’s “ethics adviser.”
Wray’s nomination is a “safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of politics,” The New York Times noted after Trump made his announcement.
A former high-ranking FBI official told CNBC’s Eamon Javers that Wray is has a “good reputation” and is “confirmable,” but that it was a “big job for someone with his level of large organizational, leadership and management experience. Will be big learning curve.”
Still, some have pointed out that Wray’s involvement in the Bridgegate scandal, along with his close ties to the Trump administration, provide reason to doubt Trump’s pick.
Christopher Wray represented Chris Christie in Bridgegate. Hs lack of ethics in deciding caseloads makes him unqualified for FBI Director.
— Emanuel Zbeda (@therealezway) June 7, 2017
#Breaking Research: Christopher Wray has given money to four GOP Senators that would be voting for him — Perdue-Isakson-McCain-Portman #resist pic.twitter.com/siUJVo5VWj
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) June 7, 2017
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