LIVINGSTON, N.J. — Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the FBI, was the first person Chris Christie called when the George Washington Bridge scandal broke wide open and the New Jersey governor faced “a very, very troubled, confusing, difficult time.”
“When I was at the absolute lowest point of my professional life, he’s who I called,” Christie, a former U.S. attorney who worked under Wray, told reporters on Wednesday, hours after the president revealed his decision. “I don’t think you can give a better recommendation than that. It’s not like I don’t know a lot of lawyers. I know every lawyer who’s got any prominence in the federal system.”
Wray served as an assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2005 during President George W. Bush’s administration. He is currently a partner at the law firm King & Spalding, where he chairs its special matters and government investigations practice group.
With Wray by his side as personal counsel, Christie was never charged nor directly implicated in the Bridgegate saga, which ended in the convictions of three former allies of the governor. The trio closed lanes leading to the world’s busiest bridge in what prosecutors said was an act of retribution meant to benefit the Republican governor.
Wray did not have the profile of other attorneys who were involved the case, like Randy Mastro, another former federal prosecutor who spearheaded an internal inquiry into Christie’s office and also managed discovery for the state.
But Wray did come up before the trial got underway last year, as defense attorneys were demanding access to the governor cell phone. Christie used the device to text with others during a key state hearing into Bridgegate. The phone was studied during an investigation Christie commissioned into the affair but went missing for a time before it was revealed Wray was in possession of it.
Christie declined to say whether he had recommended Wray to the president or lobbied for his selection. But he praised Trump for the choice, saying the nation would be getting the “gold standard.”
“I commend the president for an extraordinary choice,” he said. “The agents of the FBI and the men and women of the United States are going to be extraordinarily well served by having Chris Wray as the FBI director.”