Donald Trump has made his selection for the replacement of former Director James Comey. He notably did not select an FBI career person but did go with a former Assistant Attorney General. He is Christopher Wray.
His resume is strikingly similar to another prior FBI Director: James Comey. The White House clearly wanted to show that it was picking a professional with impeccable credentials and independent judgment. It succeeded and showed that it was still possible to repair some of the damage from the Comey debacle.
President Trump of course used Twitter to announce the selection. We discussed today the controversy over Kellyanne Conway dismissing the importance of Trump’s tweets.
Wray experience is obviously more on the legal side than the field side of law enforcement. That may rub a few agents the wrong way but of course Comey had the same type of background. Indeed, if King & Spaulding is looking for an excellent replacement the head of their government investigations group, there is a recent FBI director who would fit the bill.
Wray has a stellar background. He is a partner at King & Spaulding where he heads the Special Matters and Government Investigations Practice Group. That gives him both prosecution and defense experience on government investigation since he was the former Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. He was previously confirmed as AAG by unanimous vote of the Senate. He is also the recipient of the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Department’s highest award for public service and leadership. He has held an assortment of prosecutorial positions including a stint as assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia.
His most controversial client may have been Chris Christie (who might have recommended Wray to Trump). Wray represented Christie in connection with investigations relating to the George Washington Bridge toll lane closings. However, there is no reason to cast aspersions on Wray for such a case. He is one of the best attorneys in the field and there were not allegations of anything improper in his representation of Christie.
He served as a law clerk to Judge J. Michael Luttig of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit from 1992 to 1993.
Mr. Wray graduated, cum laude, from Yale University in 1989 and received his law degree in 1992 from Yale Law School, where he served as Executive Editor of the Yale Law Journal.
Wray is a solid choice for the FBI and should put many at ease in the Bureau given the rising concern that Trump was looking for someone with a political background. In a change from a pattern of poorly executed announcements and moves by the White House staff, this one showed both good timing and an absence of leaks. The nomination will take some attention from the Comey hearing and quiet critics who charge that Trump was looking for a political patsy. Wray is no patsy. He is the type of lawyer who is likely to work well with Rod Rosenstein, a change from the obviously uncomfortable relationship Rosenstein had with Comey.