Trump Nominates Christopher Wray for FBI Director

In this Jan. 12, 2005 file photo, Assistant Attorney General, Christopher Wray speaks at a press conference at the Justice Dept. in Washington. President Donald Trump has picked a longtime lawyer and former Justice Department official to be the next FBI director. Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that he will be nominating Christopher Wray, calling him “a man of impeccable credentials.” (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)

(CN) — President Donald Trump nominated Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official who served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s lawyer during the George Washington Bridge lane-closing investigation, as FBI director.

Trump tweeted his choice shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday. He described Wray as “a man of impeccable credentials.”

The two-sentence tweet that ends, “Details to follow.”

The White House made the announcement official Wednesday afternoon.

It comes just over 24 hours before former FBI Director James Comey is to appear before the Senate intelligence committee. Comey expected to describe his encounters with Trump in the weeks before his firing May 9.

He might also offer new details regarding discussions with Trump about the federal investigation into Russia’s election meddling

Wray emerged from a list of former prosecutors, politicians and law enforcement officials interviewed by Trump since Comey’s firing.

In a statement distributed by the White House Wray said he is honored to be the president’s choice. “I look forward to serving the American people with integrity as the leader of what I know firsthand to be an extraordinary group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to protecting this country,” he said.

He previously worked for the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, where he rose to lead the criminal division and oversaw investigations into corporate fraud.

More recently, he’s been with the King & Spalding law firm, and it was while there that he represented Christie during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case.

Wray’s name became prominent in the scandal, which stemmed from the 2013 shutdown of lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge as political payback against a Democratic mayor, after it was revealed he had possession of Christie’s old cell phone.

Investigators had sought the cell phone to determine if the governor had texted any of his staffers regarding the lane shutdown. About a dozen text messages between Christie and one of his staffers related to Bridgegate allegedly had been deleted.

Christie appointee Bill Baroni and Christie staffer Bridget Anne Kelly, the former an appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the latter one of Christie’s senior staffers, also subpoened the cell phone but were denied by the lawyer hearing the case.

A state-ordered investigation into Bridgegate had gained access to the cell phone, but prosecutors at the time claim they never had access to it.

It is unclear who has the cell phone to date.

Christie was never charged or called as a witness during the Bridgegate trial. Kelly and Baroni were found guilty by a jury last fall and are now appealing their convictions.

Earlier this month Christie praised Wray. “I have the utmost confidence in Chris,” Christie said during a June 1 press conference. “He’s an outstanding lawyer. He has absolute integrity and honesty.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday said Wray “combines a brilliant legal mind, outstanding accomplishments, and a proven record of public service.”

“The President asked us to look for an FBI Director who has integrity, who understands and is committed to the rule of law, and who is dedicated to protecting the American people from crime, gangs, and terrorists. We have found our man in Chris Wray,” Sessions added.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Donald Trump didn’t consult him before announcing that he wants  Wray to lead the FBI.

But Ryan says Wray seems like “the perfect kind of person” to succeed fired FBI Director James Comey.

The Wisconsin Republican says he favored a “career person” to take over the FBI. And Ryan says that Wray — a lawyer who served in the Justice Department under former President George W. Bush — “certainly seems to fit that bill.”

Wray graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1989 and received his law degree from Yale Law School in 1992.

 

 

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