US & Canada

Christopher Wray: The white collar lawyer picked to head FBI

This file photo taken on August 20, 2004 shows US Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Christopher Wray, during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington,DC Image copyright AFP
Image caption Donald Trump says he is a man of "impeccable credentials"

President Donald Trump's pick for FBI director, Christopher Wray, has been described by a lawyers' ranking guide as a man who "will give you straight answers without blowing smoke".

As a former assistant attorney general and head of the justice department's criminal division during the George W Bush administration, he pursued major cases of corporate fraud, including at energy giant Enron.

If confirmed by the Senate, he will join the US federal investigation agency from King & Spalding, a top white collar law firm based in Washington DC and Atlanta, where he works as a criminal defence lawyer.

Mr Trump said the Yale Law School graduate was a man of "impeccable credentials".

But he could face tough questioning over a recent client - Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor and a man close to Mr Trump who headed his presidential transition team for a period.

Christopher Wray represented him in the 2013 "Bridgegate" scandal.

Two of Mr Christie's former aides were convicted of plotting to close lanes of traffic on a New York City bridge as revenge against a Democratic mayor who would not endorse the governor. Mr Christie denied any knowledge of the plan and was not charged.

"I think that the president certainly would not be making a mistake if he asked Chris Wray to be FBI director," Mr Christie recently said, according to news site NorthJersey.com.

Despite the Christie connection, the New York Times describes him as a "safe, mainstream pick" that is "likely to allay the fears of FBI agents who worried that Mr Trump would try to weaken or politicise the FBI".

Mr Wray would take over the FBI from acting director Andrew McCabe, who was appointed on an interim basis after the president dramatically dismissed James Comey as director last month.

He will take the reins of the agency as investigations continue into possible collusion between Trump campaign figures and Russia, which is accused of cyber-hacks to influence the result.

James Comey had allegedly come under pressure from the US president to end the investigation into now sacked national security adviser Mike Flynn, and a special counsel is currently overseeing the FBI inquiry to protect its independence.

Interestingly, Mr Wray has worked closely with all the major players before, on the Enron case. James Comey, former FBI director Robert Mueller (the special counsel) and Andrew Weissman, who is reported to have joined Mr Mueller's team, were all part of that effort 15 years ago.

Given Christopher Wray has worked as a private lawyer specialising in white collar crime since 2005, lawmakers may question his counterterrorism and management experience, says the BBC's Barbara Plett-Usher in Washington.

However she points out that they did want a career law enforcement professional rather than a politician.

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