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Christopher Wray confirmed by Senate to head FBI

The Senate voted 92-5 Tuesday to approve Christopher Wray as President Trump’s nominee to lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with lawmakers confident he can independently lead the bureau and shield its investigations from political interference.

The vote comes less than three months after the president fired former FBI Director James Comey, setting off a chain of events that included the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and possible coordination with members of the Trump campaign.

Lawmakers who voted for Mr. Wray expressed confidence in his ability to protect the integrity of the ongoing Russia probes from any potential interference.

“Mr. Wray was asked directly what he would do if presented with the opportunity to influence these investigations in any way. He told the committee that he won’t condone tampering with investigations, and that he would resign rather than be unduly influenced in any manner,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican. “Mr. Wray’s record of service, and his reputation, give us no reason to doubt him.”

Mr. Wray had appeared poised for an easy confirmation after receiving unanimous backing from the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned Tuesday against any possible attempt to derail Mr. Wray’s nomination.

“I would hope that with all the threats facing us at home and abroad, our Democratic colleagues would not launch the first filibuster of a nominee to be FBI Director, especially one who was reported out of the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 20-0,” Mr. McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

The five senators who voted against Mr. Wray included Democrats Ron Wyden, Kirsten Gillibrand and Elizabeth Warren.

Mr. Wyden said he voted against Mr. Wray’s nomination because of the nominee’s stance on privacy issues.

“In his public and private statements, Chris Wray failed to oppose government backdoors into Americans’ personal devices, or to acknowledge the facts about encryption — that it isn’t about liberty versus security, it’s about more security versus less security,” Mr. Wyden said. “While I appreciate his willingness to continue studying the issue, other officials who have talked about finding common ground have turned around and sought to fatally undermine the cornerstone of Americans’ cybersecurity.”

Mr. Wray earned bipartisan support during his confirmation hearing, when he promised lawmakers that he was outside the president’s sphere of influence and would resist any efforts to politicize the bureau as it helps investigate Trump aides’ involvement with Russia.

“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. Period. Full stop,” Mr. Wray told the Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing. “My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Mr. Wray is a private attorney who has focused on corporate litigation at the law firm King & Spaulding for more than a decade. His last post in the federal government was in 2005, when he served as the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s sprawling criminal division. He also brings counter terrorism and counterespionage expertise to the table, having worked on those issues for the Justice Department after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks. Before that, he served as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who questioned Mr. Wray during his confirmation hearing about his stance on torture because of his role in the development of the George W. Bush administration’s counter terrorism policies, said she was satisfied with his answers on those matters. But she warned that his resolve on the independence of the FBI could face a test early on his term.

“I believe the next FBI director’s independence, integrity and commitment to the rule of law, sadly, will likely be tested by this administration,” the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said. “One early test may come in relation to the investigations being conducted by Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller, this committee and other committees in Congress.”

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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