NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — President Donald Trump revealed Wednesday that he will be nominating Christopher Wray, a former assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie‘s lawyer during the Bridgegate trial, to be the next director of the FBI.
Trump made the announcement on Twitter Wednesday morning. He said Wray is “a man of impeccable credentials.”
“Mr. Wray was not on the original list of people that the White House was looking at as potential FBI directors so in a way this comes out of the blue,” CBS News correspondent Jeff Pegues said. “He is not well-known in national circles but he is someone well known in Republican circles.”
CBS News’ Margaret Brennan reported that those who were initially being considered by Trump before he embarked on his foreign trip as president withdrew their name, including former Sen. Joe Lieberman.
“There were a lot of people who were concerned about the level of scrutiny that will be on this new FBI director,” Margaret Brennan reported.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said he looked at Wray’s resume and that he seems like “the perfect kind of person” for the job.
“I thought we should have a career person take over the FBI, someone with a deep bench of experience. He certainly seems to fit that bill,” Ryan said.
But Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia) questioned the timing of the announcement.
“I think it’s more than a little bit curious that the president chose this morning as the time to announce his new FBI head who by the way I understand has got a pretty good reputation,” Warner said.
The announcement comes a day before Comey’s much-anticipated testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, Comey will face questions about reports that President Trump asked him to drop his probe into fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russia.
In his opening statement that has been released in advance, Comey said in an Oval Office meeting m, Trump said to him: “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”
Comey said in a March 30 phone call, Trump “described the Russia investigation as a cloud…. He said he had nothing to do with Russia. He asked what we could do to ‘lift the cloud.’”
“With this tweet the president has now changed the focus towards the new FBI director,” Margaret reported. “Trump has tried to change the story back to what’s next and not what has happened with that very acrimonious relationship between him and the FBI director he fired.”
Wray works in private practice for the King & Spalding law firm. He represented Christie in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing investigation. Two former Christie aides were convicted of plotting to shut down access lanes to the bridge in 2013 for political retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee who wouldn’t endorse Christie.
Wray was also integral in the Department of Justice’s response to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, playing a role in the oversight and legal operational actions in the war on terrorism.
Meanwhile, Trump was in Cincinnati on Wednesday morning, promoting his desire to fix America’s crumbling infrastructure.
“We believe in the dignity of work and in the greatness of the American worker,” Trump said. “There is no worker like the American worker.”
Trump said an investment in the future is needed.
“It’s time to recapture our legacy as a nation of builders and to create new lanes of travel, commerce and discovery, and we’re going to see all the way into the future, and the future is going to be beautiful, and the future is going to be bright,” Trump said.
A spokesman for the Trump administration said the president will also be focusing on infrastructure improvements on Thursday during Comey’s much anticipated testimony.