Who Is Christopher Wray?


President Donald Trump announced Wednesday his pick for FBI director, choosing an experienced lawyer with a deep law enforcement background over politicians who had been floated as possible candidates.

In a Wednesday morning tweet, Trump said he will nominate Christopher Wray, a former Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor who currently works in private practice, to lead the bureau.

Wray, whom Trump called a man of “impeccable credentials,” is no stranger to federal law enforcement. He was a top attorney in the George W. Bush Justice Department, rising to lead the agency’s criminal division and supervising investigations into corporate fraud from 2003 to 2005. In his most high-profile case, Wray supervised a task force of prosecutors and FBI agents created to investigate the Enron scandal.

A graduate of Yale Law School, Wray joined the DOJ in 1997 in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. In 2001, he moved to Washington, D.C. for a series of headquarters assignments before being nominated as assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division in 2003.

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Currently a litigation partner at King & Spalding law firm, Wray is perhaps best known today as the lawyer who defended New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie in the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal. He represented Christie in the case in which two of the governor’s aides were convicted of plotting to shut down bridge lanes to spite a Democratic mayor who wouldn’t endorse Christie.

Christie and Wray met when the former was the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey in the Bush administration, reports the Associated Press. The governor believes Wray would be a wise choice to lead the FBI.

“I have the utmost confidence in Chris. He’s an outstanding lawyer,” Christie said at a news conference Thursday. “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.”

If confirmed, Wray would return to government service following 12 years in private practice. As he did at the Justice Department, Wray specializes in white collar and corporate fraud cases, only now as a defense attorney. He has defended Fortune 100 clients in the pharmaceutical, telecommunications and financial services industries against government probes into alleged fraud and misconduct, according to his law firm biography.

Wray’s nomination is a more traditional choice than others who had been discussed as possible picks. As recently as late May, former Connecticut Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, were considered to be front runners for the FBI job. Trump’s choice of a DOJ veteran may reassure critics who fear Trump is looking to install a political ally in the director’s office.

Bill Mateja, a colleague of Wray’s at the Justice Department in the early 2000s, told The Washington Post that Wray has a “real moral compass” that will allow him to maintain independence from the White House.

“If people thought that Trump might pick a lackey, Chris Wray is not Trump’s lackey,” Mateja said.

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