Christopher Wray.   File Photo: REUTERS
Christopher Wray. File Photo: REUTERS

New York — US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that he will nominate former Justice Department official Christopher A Wray as FBI director, a day before the man he fired from that post, James Comey, testifies before the senate.

Trump called Wray a man of "impeccable credentials" when announcing his choice on Twitter.

The timing suggests Trump’s interest 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 close to Trump colluded in that effort.

Initial reaction to Trump’s pick included praise from some of the president’s frequent critics, a positive sign of Wray’s potential to win bipartisan support in the senate and right the FBI’s course after a tumultuous start to Trump’s presidency.

Matthew Miller, a justice department spokesman during the Obama administration, said in a tweet that Wray is "probably the best choice from the White House short list. His record under Bush deserves scrutiny, but he’s a serious, respectable pick".

Former Obama administration ethics adviser Norm Eisen endorsed Trump’s pick, saying on Twitter that Wray is respected in the white-collar bar and did a good job on the Enron case.

Christie background

Wray led the justice department’s criminal division from 2003 to 2005, according to his biography on the website of King & Spalding, where he’s now a litigation partner. He represented New Jersey governor Chris Christie, an early supporter of Trump during the 2016 election, in the George Washington Bridge traffic scandal that erupted in 2014, according to NJ.com.

While Wray will face close questioning in his senate confirmation hearing, his background as a justice department professional may give him an advantage. Senators of both parties had urged Trump to choose a law-enforcement professional rather than a politician when the president was considering choices such as Senator John Cornyn and former Senator Joe Lieberman.

At the department, Wray helped lead its efforts to address the wave of corporate fraud scandals, overseeing the Enron task force and other major fraud investigations, according to his biography. He received a law degree from Yale in 1992.

Trump’s decision ends the nearly month-long search for a successor to Comey, who Trump fired May 9. Trump said on May 18, before leaving on his first foreign trip as president, that Lieberman was one of his top choices to lead the bureau.

Senate Democrats signaled their opposition to Lieberman, and he sent a letter to Trump withdrawing himself from consideration on May 25, citing the possible appearance of a conflict of interest as he works at the same law firm as Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz.

Bloomberg

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