Wednesday 20 September 2017

Christopher Wray is 'gonna be great' as FBI director, says Donald Trump

Christopher Wray is Donald Trump's pick to be the next FBI director (Lawrence Jackson/AP)
Christopher Wray is Donald Trump's pick to be the next FBI director (Lawrence Jackson/AP)

US President Donald Trump has expressed confidence in his pick for FBI director.

Speaking to reporters in Cincinnati, he said that Christopher Wray is "gonna be great".

Mr Trump announced his plans to nominate Mr Wray, a former Justice Department official under George W Bush, on Twitter earlier on Wednesday.

It comes one day before the FBI director that Mr Trump fired last month, James Comey, was to testify in public on Capitol Hill for the first time since his dismissal.

Mr Trump, in a statement later on Wednesday, called Mr Wray "an impeccably qualified individual".

"I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the FBI," he said.

Mr Wray said he was honoured to be selected.

"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.

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

He took charge of a task force of prosecutors and FBI agents created to investigate the Enron scandal.

Mr Wray also played an important role after September 11, providing oversight as the FBI and Justice Department shifted their focus to counter-terrorism and performing "superbly during the incredibly intense period", according to the current attorney general Jeff Sessions.

Mr Sessions said in a statement that Mr Wray "combines a brilliant legal mind, outstanding accomplishments and a proven record of public service".

Mr Wray is a traditional choice for the job. Mr Trump had considered current and former politicians, including former senator Joe Lieberman, and some FBI agents worried that Mr Trump would try to politicise the bureau.

Thomas O'Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, said the group looked forward to meeting with Mr Wray and learning about his views on the bureau and the challenges agents face.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said Mr Wray seemed like "the perfect kind of person" for the important job.

Mr Ryan said he favoured a "career person" and that Mr Wray "certainly seems to fit that bill".

Reaction to Mr Wray was slow on Capitol Hill as lawmakers were not given advance notice and few in Congress know him.

Presidents traditionally give members of the same party a heads up about such an announcement, allowing lawmakers time to prepare positive statements about the nominee.

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".

A GOP colleague was more cautious.

"With the many threats that the US faces domestically and internationally, we need a strong FBI director," said Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, a member of the Senate intelligence committee.

"In the coming weeks, we will evaluate Christopher Wray's qualifications to lead the FBI and his plans for our security and law enforcement."

The timing of Mr Trump's announcement appeared to be an effort to redirect attention on the eve of Mr Comey's testimony before the Senate intelligence committee.

Mr Comey is expected to describe his encounters with Mr Trump in the weeks before his May 9 firing.

He could offer new details regarding discussions with Mr Trump about the federal investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible co-ordination with the Trump campaign.

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 Mr Comey's credibility.

AP

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