Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s pick to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey, will field questions Wednesday from a Senate panel.
Wray’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Watch live here.
Trump called Wray, who has been working at a private law firm since 2005, “a man of impeccable credentials” when he announced his plans to nominate the former Assistant Attorney General last month. A graduate of Yale Law School, Wray also represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the investigation into the closure of lanes on the George Washington Bridge, a scandal that became known as Bridgegate.
Wray is considered a safe choice to take over the FBI. Trump has faced scrutiny for firing Comey, who said at hearing last month that the President asked for his loyalty on numerous occasions. The FBI is currently probing possible Trump ties to an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
And while Wray has already disclosed a lot about his career in a questionnaire submitted to the Senate, here are 5 questions he is likely to face during Wednesday’s hearing.
Approach to the Russia investigation
If confirmed, Wray would be taking the helm of the FBI amid an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — a topic that is almost guaranteed to come up during Wray’s nomination hearing on Wednesday. And since the appointment of Robert Mueller, the special counselor tapped to lead the investigation into Russia, questions have swirled about whether or not the President would fire Mueller in an effort to stymie the investigation. In a post, Lawfare’s editor-in-chief Benjamin Wittes posed a number questions that Wray should be asked specifically about Mueller and his investigation.
Has the President asked you for loyalty?
It is also all but certain that senators will be looking for Wray to affirm his commitment to the independence of the bureau. Though the White House initially said Comey was fired over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, Trump later told NBC‘s Lester Holt that the Russia probe influenced his decision. After that interview, Comey revealed that the President had asked him for loyalty during a private dinner meeting at the White House in February. Comey also said that while he was FBI director, Trump called him on a number of occasions and discussed aspects of the probe
How will you balance your relationship with the leadership at the Department of Justice?
Under the Obama Administration, former Director Comey faced scrutiny for going around then Attorney General Loretta Lynch to detail findings from the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. The Senate Judiciary Committee will likely press Wray on how he would respect the Department’s chain of command while maintaining independence to conduct investigations as necessary.
History working for the federal government?
In his questionnaire, Wray disclosed information about his background as a private attorney, an assistant U.S. Attorney, and a Justice Department official, but lawmakers will likely want more information about his work at the Justice Department when he served during the Bush administration. At the DOJ, Wray worked on corporate fraud cases and led the investigation into Enron.
Record on national security and terrorism
In his Senate questionnaire, Wray notes that counterterrorism was the highest priority at the criminal division when he served in the Department of Justice. He listed a number of terror-related prosecutions among the most significant matters he handled in his career. Wray will likely be asked to delve deeper on matters related to terrorism when he appears before the Senate.
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