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WASHINGTON (AP) — The attorney selected to replace James Comey as FBI director is described by those close to him as admirably low-key, yet he’d be taking over the law enforcement agency at a moment that’s anything but tranquil.
Christopher Wray would inherit an FBI that lost its popular leader in an unceremonious firing in May and that has spent the last year investigating whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to win the presidency. During this most consequential probe in decades, he’d be serving under a president who is said to have demanded loyalty from Comey and has appeared insensitive to the traditionally bright boundary between the White House and the FBI.
Wray’s hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee may dive into his legal background but will almost certainly focus on the political maelstrom surrounding the nomination, with Democrats and perhaps some Republicans seeking assurances of his independence from President Donald Trump.
Lawyers and FBI agents who have worked with Wray don’t expect that to be a problem, describing him as calm, methodical and even-handed. He has deep experience in Washington, serving as the top criminal lawyer in the Bush administration Justice Department and working closely not only with Comey but also Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who’s now serving as special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation.
Wray’s confirmation would thrust him immediately into the ongoing Russia investigation, and though he’d likely receive updates on the probe’s progress and work to ensure that the special counsel has the resources he needs, prosecution decisions would be made by Mueller and his team.
“The people in the bureau are particularly concerned about what’s going to walk through that door,” said Monique Roth, who worked under Wray in the criminal division. “He is a very steady hand at the helm.”
Wray, 50, was selected following a weeks-long search that began days after Trump abruptly fired Comey. Several current and former elected officials were interviewed for the job, and many contenders gradually withdrew from consideration. The pick was revealed in a…