The Senate on Tuesday voted 92-5 to confirm Christopher Wray ’89 LAW ’92 as FBI director, installing a Yale graduate as head of the nation’s principal law enforcement agency.
President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Wray, a federal prosecutor in George W. Bush’s ’68 administration and a Washington-based criminal defense lawyer, in a tweet on June 7. On July 12, Wray appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee for his confirmation hearing.
Wray worked in the Justice Department before spending almost 12 years at the law firm King & Spalding. He became associate deputy attorney general in May 2001, putting him in a central position as the country adjusted in the aftermath of Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As the head of criminal division from 2003 to 2005, Wray investigated sensitive fraud charges, as well as CIA abuses of detainees, including the deaths of two men in Afghanistan and Iraq.
At his confirmation hearing, Wray promised to keep the FBI impartial amid reports that President Donald Trump had fired Wray’s predecessor, James Comey, for his unwillingness to halt an investigation into the president’s ties with Russia.
“My loyalty is to the Constitution, the rule of law and to the mission of the FBI,” Wray said during the hearing. “No one asked me for any kind of loyalty oath at any point during this process. I sure as heck didn’t offer one.”
Yale Law School professor Kate Stith, who served as a special assistant to Wray’s predecessor in the Justice Department, then head of the criminal division Philip Heymann, said that although she does not know Wray well, everyone she knows who has worked with him “has only positive things to say.” As a former federal prosecutor who worked closely with the FBI before coming to Yale, Stith noted the hearing went very smoothly, based on the segments that she watched.
“From all I know, he is exactly whom we want to head the FBI,” Stith said.
Another Yale Law School professor, Steven Duke LAW ’61, who knew Wray as a student and clerked with his father on the Supreme Court, said he watched part of Wray’s hearing.
“It looks like he knows what he is doing,” Duke said in an email.