Yet another bit of breaking news which arrived by way of President Trump’s Twitter account. We have a nominee to replace James Comey, just as he prepares to give potentially damaging testimony about the President to Congress. The proposed man for the job is Christopher Ray.
I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 7, 2017
NBC News tossed out a few more details shortly after Trump announced it.
President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that he will nominate former Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey.
“I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow,” Trump tweeted.
In 2003, Wray was nominated by President George W. Bush as assistant attorney general in charge of the Department of Justice’s criminal division. He served until 2005, and then returned to private practice, specializing in white-collar crime.
In terms of qualifications, Wray is pretty much bullet-proof. His legal background, combined with a position as Assistant Attorney General leading the criminal division under George W. Bush gives him the resume required for consideration. (You can read a bit more about his background here.)
But it’s what Wray has been doing as a civilian after leaving the Bush administration which will likely produce the most noise among the chattering class. He was Chris Christie’s personal attorney for the entire “Bridgegate scandal” and remains very close to the outgoing New Jersey Governor. Word on the street is that Christie had been in regular contact with the President and had lobbied him to nominate Wray. Despite his qualifications, that’s probably going to be one of the major talking points in liberal media circles, since representing a GOP governor caught up in an alleged “scandal” will be too much clickbait for most to resist. It also raises the specter of precisely how much influence Christie still has with President Trump and if he may be showing up with a White House job during the next inevitable shake-up after leaving the New Jersey Governor’s mansion.
If you think this pick won’t be immediately politicized I’ll just wish you luck with that. I was watching Morning Joe with the sound off when I saw this news flash across the chyron this morning and unmuted it. Interestingly, one of the guests immediately referred to it as “the first of many smoke bombs we’ll see” while the testimony in Congress rolls out this week. Isn’t it funny how the press complained endlessly about how long it was taking to nominate a new FBI director, but as soon as Trump puts out a name it’s a “smoke bomb.”
Frankly, I don’t think this is an attempt at distraction by the President. Or if it is, it’s a seriously inept one. It’s a nomination which will go into the hopper for Senate committee consideration. Wray won’t be close to a full vote until long after these Comey hearings are long over and it really won’t generate many headlines until that time unless someone digs up something seriously juicy. The real question is whether or not a single Democrat will vote for an FBI director who has close ties to Christie and if the GOP can actually hold their entire block together to push Wray over the finish line if the Democrats once again take a solid, obstructionist position on the nomination.