FBI director nominee Christopher Wray vowed to remain independent of any pressure at his confirmation hearing Wednesday to replace James Comey — pledging to adhere to the “Constitution and the rule of law” as head of the bureau, “no matter the test.”
“If I am given the honor of leading this agency, I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice,” Wray told the Senate Judiciary Committee in his prepared testimony. “Period.”
Senators are expected to press Wray on whether he will maintain his independence from President Donald Trump, as well as any conversations between him and the president about whether Trump asked for his loyalty.
Democratic senators are also curious about Wray’s involvement in the counterterrorism policies of the George W. Bush administration, when he was a top official at the Justice Department.
Still, key senators from both parties on the Judiciary Committee say so far that they have found no major red flags so far in Wray, a veteran corporate lawyer who spent four years at the Department of Justice, mostly after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
“It’s a demanding job that requires a keen understanding of the law, sound management skills, calmness under significant pressure, and a very level head,” the committee’s chairman, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, said in his opening remarks. “From what I’ve seen so far from meetings with Mr. Wray and from looking at his record, he appears to possess these qualifications.”
Grassley added: “In reviewing his record, I’ve seen Mr. Wray’s commitment to independence.”
Wray was announced as Trump’s pick on June 7, just one day before Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Trump, who fired Comey on May 8, cycled through several other potential candidates for the job before settling on Wray, including Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), former TSA administrator John Pistole and Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s current acting director.