President Donald Trump has tapped former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray as his nominee to replace James Comey as FBI Director. Wray worked with Comey at the Justice Department for two years before serving the last 12 years in private practice.
President George W. Bush selected Wray to lead the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division from 2003 to 2005. Since then, he has been a partner at King & Spalding and also acted as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s personal lawyer during the Bridgegate scandal.
Here’s everything you need to know about Wray.
Wray Offered to Resign With Comey Over Wiretapping
In a March 2004 conflict with the White House, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller and then-Deputy Attorney General Comey threatened to resign over wiretapping. Wray reportedly supported them in this standoff and told Comey, “Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but before you guys all pull the rip cords, please give me a heads‑up so I can jump with you.”
At the time, Comey would not approve of parts of the National Security Agency’s domestic wiretapping program.
Comey and others later withdrew their resignation threats after Bush agreed to alter the NSA programs.
Wray resigned in May 2005.
King & Spalding
Wray, 50, has been a litigation partner at the King & Spalding law firm since leaving the Justice Department in 2005.
“Chris Wray is one of the nation’s top litigators and understands the prosecution of white collar crime extremely well. We are proud to welcome him back to King & Spalding,” said Walter W. Driver, Jr., King & Spalding’s chairman in a press release at the time. “As head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, Chris has been in charge of investigations, prosecutions and policy development in virtually all areas of federal criminal law — from fraud and public corruption to terrorism, money laundering, computer crime and appellate litigation. He has the will and experience to effectively drive the continued growth of our special matters practice, and our clients will benefit greatly from the experience he has gathered while at the Justice Department.”
Wray said in a statement:
“I am thrilled to return to the firm where I began my legal career and to see how King & Spalding has grown in the past eight years. I am excited to lead such a distinguished group of attorneys and look forward to working with them to best serve our clients. That includes handling major corporate investigations and enforcement matters, internal investigations and working proactively to ensure that the proper corporate policies and business practices are adopted early on to ensure not only government compliance — but also business success.”
According to the firm’s website:
“Mr. Wray chairs the King & Spalding Special Matters and Government Investigations Practice Group, which represents companies, audit and special committees, and individuals in a variety of white-collar criminal and regulatory enforcement matters, parallel civil litigation, and internal corporate investigations.”
Law360 named Wray’s group the “White-Collar Group of the Year” and the U.S. News & World Report said they are “the premier firm in this practice area.”
Wray was the personal attorney to NJ Governor Chris Christie during the Bridgegate scandal. Three of Christie’s top aides were found guilty of federal crimes, though Christie himself was cleared of all criminal charges.
The Associated Press reports that during his representation of Christie, Wray was found in possession of a missing cell phone that the governor claimed he had handed over to the DoJ. The phone included dozens of text messages between Christie and a former staffer during legislative testimony by Port Authority officials in 2013. It is still not known what was featured in the exchanges.
Christie supported Trump’s nomination of Wray, saying:
“I have the utmost confidence in Chris. He’s an outstanding lawyer. He has absolute integrity and honesty, and I think that the president certainly would not be making a mistake if he asked Chris Wray to be FBI director.”
Wray was one of many names on a shortlist to replace Comey as FBI Director.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said May 30 that another former Bush administration official, John Pistole, was also being interviewed for the job on the same day as Wray. Others such as Joe Lieberman, Justice Department Criminal Division Chief Alice Fisher, Congressman Trey Gowdy and Senator John Cornyn withdrew themselves from consideration, according to CNN. Judge Michael Garcia and FBI ofifical Richard McFeely also dropped themselves from consideration.