Two months after President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI director James Comey, and admitted it was due to the handling of the investigation about possible collusion between the Trump election campaign and Russian officials, a new director has been appointed.
FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray was sworn-in on Capitol Hill in Washington Wednesday, prior to testifying at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
First, though, he had to be grilled by senators on both sides of the aisle. Democrats and Republicans wanted assurances that Wray will remain independent from White House influence.
A lawyer picked by Trump to lead the FBI, Wray says he disagrees with the president’s assessment that the special counsel investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump election campaign is a “witch hunt.”
The new director also said during his confirmation hearing that he would never let politics get in the way of doing his job. FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms.
Wray, a former top official in the Bush administration’s Justice Department, enjoys bipartisan support.
When asked by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham whether Donald Trump, Jr. should have met with a Russian lawyer during last year’s presidential campaign, Wray stopped short of answering, and then said he would probably want to consult with a legal adviser before doing so.
He added, “Any threat or effort to interfere with our election by any nation, state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know.”
When pressed about his role in drafting the so-called “torture memos,” detailing the use of certain interrogation tactics against terror suspects during the Bush-era, Wray said he could not recall providing any input. An ACLU database maintains revised emails to and from him on the subject.
Appearing last month before a Congressional hearing after his firing, Comey mentioned the president had asked for “loyalty,” which implied to him he was being pressured to have the investigation end in Trump’s favor.
Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy questioned Wray about any allegiance he might have to Trump.
“No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process, and I sure as heck didn’t offer one,” Wray said.
He later said, “Anybody who thinks that I would be pulling punches as FBI director sure doesn’t know me very well.”