US Senate confirms Christopher Wray as new FBI director

Wray pledges to protect the FBI from political pressure after the firing of the former director

The US Senate has overwhelmingly confirmed Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. Photograph: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

The US Senate has overwhelmingly confirmed Christopher Wray as the next FBI director. Photograph: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

 

The US Senate has overwhelmingly confirmed Christopher Wray as the next FBI director to steer the United States’ premier law enforcement agency through a politically fraught period as it investigates whether any of President Donald Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government during last year’s election.

The 92-5 vote on Tuesday to confirm Mr Wray, a former federal prosecutor, is likely to be a relief to many agents at the FBI who want a strong director to stave off any attempts by the White House to meddle in its investigations. The deteriorating relationship between Trump and the previous FBI director, James Comey, was widely viewed as harmful to the bureau.

Trump summarily fired Comey in May, infuriating many FBI agents who saw the move as disrespectful. Since then, the bureau has been run by Andrew McCabe, the acting FBI director, whom the president has attacked repeatedly because his wife, a Democrat, ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the Virginia Legislature. McCabe was also close to Comey and served as his deputy before the director was fired, fuelling suspicions among the president’s closest aides.

With Wray confirmed, it is not clear what will happen to McCabe, who is eligible to retire in March. If Wray decides to keep McCabe as his deputy director, it could trigger Trump’s ire, creating an uncomfortable scenario at the FBI. Yet demoting McCabe, a career FBI agent, would probably anger agents, who would see it as a move that placates the president.

Friends and former colleagues of Wray say he is a low-key leader but mindful of the divisions that should exist between the FBI and the White House. At his Senate confirmation hearing last month, Wray said he would resist any political pressure. He told the Senate that he knew he was walking into a political maelstrom.

“I fully understand that this is not a job for the faint of heart,” Wray said. “I can assure this committee, I am not faint of heart.”

New York Times