Christopher Asher Wray (born December 17, 1966[2]) is an American attorney who is the current director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He was nominated by president Donald Trump on June 7, 2017, and has served since August 2, 2017.

Christopher A. Wray
8th Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
Assumed office
August 2, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
Joe Biden
Deputy
Preceded byJames Comey
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division
In office
September 11, 2003 – May 17, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byMichael Chertoff
Succeeded byAlice S. Fisher
Personal details
Born
Christopher Asher Wray

(1966-12-17) December 17, 1966 (age 57)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican[1]
Spouse
Helen Garrison Howell
(m. 1989)
Children2
EducationYale University (BA, JD)
Signature

Born in New York City, Wray graduated from Yale University in 1989, then attended Yale Law School. He joined government in 1997 as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. From 2003 to 2005, Wray served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division in George W. Bush's administration. He later was a litigation partner with the law firm King & Spalding from 2005 to 2016.

On June 7, 2017, President Donald Trump nominated Wray to replace James Comey as Director of the FBI. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on July 30, and took office on August 2. Wray is a registered Republican.[3]

Early life and education edit

Christopher Asher Wray was born in New York City.[4] His father, Cecil A. Wray Jr.,[5][6] was a graduate of Vanderbilt University and Yale Law School who worked as a lawyer at Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City.[7][8] His paternal grandfather, T. Cecil Wray, was the city manager of Brentwood, Tennessee from 1971 to 1973.[9] His paternal great-grandfather, Taylor Malone, was also a Vanderbilt graduate,[10] and the co-founder and president of Malone & Hyde, "one of the South's largest wholesale grocery firms."[11] His maternal grandfather, Samuel E. Gates, "helped shape the laws that govern national and international airline flights" as an official of the Bureau of Air Commerce.[12]

Wray attended the private Buckley School[13] in New York City and the private boarding school Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.[5] After graduating, Wray attended Yale University where he majored in philosophy and graduated cum laude[5] in 1989 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He then attended Yale Law School, where he was the executive editor of the Yale Law Journal and graduated in 1992 with a Juris Doctor. After graduating from law school, Wray served as a law clerk to Judge J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.[14]

Early career edit

Government service edit

 
Christopher Wray and wife Helen in 2017

Wray joined the government in 1997 as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. In 2001, he moved to the Justice Department as associate deputy attorney general and principal associate deputy attorney general.[14]

On June 9, 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Wray to be the 33rd Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Wray was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on September 11, 2003.[15][16][17] Wray was Assistant Attorney General from 2003 to 2005, working under Deputy Attorney General James Comey. While heading the Criminal Division, Wray oversaw prominent fraud investigations, including Enron.[14][18]

In early 2004, the Justice Department issued a finding that the Bush administration's warrantless domestic surveillance program under the Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) was unconstitutional.[19][20] Under White House procedures, DoJ approval was required in order for the program to be renewed.[19] In 2006, it was revealed DoJ officials came under pressure from the White House to change this ruling, and that then-FBI Director Robert Mueller and Comey had prepared their resignations if the White House overruled it.[19][21] In 2013, it was revealed that Wray threatened to resign along with them over the matter.[22]

In March 2005, Wray announced that he would resign from his post.[23][16]

In 2005, Wray received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Justice Department's highest award for public service and leadership.[24]

Private law practice edit

Wray joined King & Spalding in 2005 as a litigation partner in the firm's Washington, D.C., and Atlanta offices. Wray represented several Fortune 100 companies and chaired the King & Spalding Special Matters and Government Investigations Practice Group.[25] During his time at King & Spalding, Wray acted as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's personal attorney during the Bridgegate scandal.[26][27] Wray's firm also represents Russian energy giants Gazprom and Rosneft, an issue which came under contention during the confirmation process for position of FBI Director.

Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (2017–present) edit

 
Wray being sworn in as FBI Director by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
 
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Wray announce charges against Chinese government hackers, December 20, 2018

Nomination edit

Following the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey on May 9, 2017, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie presented to President Donald Trump the possibility of hiring Wray as Comey's replacement.[28] Trump interviewed Wray for the vacant FBI Director job on May 30, 2017, according to then Press Secretary Sean Spicer.[14] On June 7, 2017, Trump announced his intention to nominate Wray to be the next FBI Director.[29] Wray's Senate confirmation hearing commenced on July 12, 2017.[30] Among other testimony, when asked if he believed that the investigation into Russian 2016 election interference and possible links to Trump's campaign is a "witch hunt", he stated that he did not.[30] On July 20, 2017, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously recommended to confirm Wray as the next Director of the FBI.[31] Wray was officially confirmed by the Senate with bipartisan support on August 1, 2017; the vote was 92–5.[32][33]

Tenure edit

Wray was sworn in by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a private ceremony on August 2, 2017.[34] Wray was formally sworn in on September 28, 2017, in a ceremony that was not attended by President Trump, marking the first time an FBI director had been sworn in without the president who nominated him present at the ceremony.[35]

On February 13, 2018, in a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing focused on Chinese espionage in the United States, Senator Marco Rubio asked Wray about the risk posed from Chinese students in advanced science and mathematics programs. In response, Wray stated "nontraditional collectors" (which he elaborated to include professors, scientists, and students) are "exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have" and consequently he viewed the risk "as not just a whole of government threat but a whole of society threat."[36] Representatives Judy Chu, Ted Lieu, and Grace Meng released statements criticizing Wray's response as "irresponsible generalizations" implying that all Chinese students and scholars were spies.[37] A coalition of Asian American advocacy groups wrote an open letter to Wray asking for a dialogue "to discuss how well-intentioned public policies might nonetheless lead to troubling issues of potential bias, racial profiling, and wrongful prosecution".[38] In a follow-up interview with NBC, Wray stood by his earlier remarks: "To be clear, we do not open investigations based on race, or ethnicity, or national origin. But when we open investigations into economic espionage, time and time again, they keep leading back to China."[39]

On December 9, 2019, Wray was interviewed by ABC News following the release of the DoJ inspector general's report on the origins of the Russia investigation.[40] In the interview, when asked about characterizations of the FBI and its agents as the "deep state", Wray responded, "I think that's the kind of label that's a disservice to the men and women who work at the FBI who I think tackle their jobs with professionalism, with rigor, with objectivity, with courage. So that's not a term I would ever use to describe our work force and I think it's an affront to them."[40] He said he did not believe the Trump campaign was unfairly targeted by the FBI probe. He also denied that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 presidential elections, stating "We have no information that indicates that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 presidential election" and "as far as the [2020] election itself goes, we think Russia represents the most significant threat".[40] This led Trump to criticize Wray the following day, claiming that Wray would "never be able to fix the FBI."[41]

In January 2020, Senator Chris Murphy wrote to Wray, urging the FBI to "investigate the allegations" that Saudi Arabia "illegally compromised and stole personal data" from Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post, as part of a possible effort to "influence, if not silence, the Washington Post's reporting on Saudi Arabia".[42][43]

In April 2020, Trump considered ousting Wray and replacing him with William Evanina but when Attorney General William Barr threatened to resign, Trump backed down.[44] In May 2020, Wray ordered an internal review into possible misconduct in the FBI's investigation of Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.[45][46]

On June 4, 2020, Wray stated that "anarchists" like antifa are "exploiting" George Floyd protests "to pursue violent, extremist agendas".[47][48] Wray later clarified that antifa is an ideology rather than a specific organization, clashing with Trump.[49]

In July 2020, Wray called People's Republic of China the "greatest long-term threat" to the United States. He said that "the FBI is now opening a new China-related counterintelligence case every 10 hours. Of the nearly 5,000 active counterintelligence cases currently under way across the country, almost half are related to China."[50] Wray cited the Anthem medical data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 78 million people and the 2017 Equifax data breach that impacted more than 145 million Americans.[51] Wray argued China was trying to become the world's only superpower, supplanting the United States.[52]

On October 28, 2020, the FBI Agents Association released a letter addressed to both Trump and Joe Biden requesting Wray remain Director of the FBI for the 10-year term.[53]

On December 2, 2020, a member of then-president-elect Biden's transition team announced that if Wray was not fired or removed from his position by Trump, then he would remain Director of the FBI.[54]

On March 2, 2021, Wray testified in Senate hearings about the extremism that led to the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol in which he condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol and argued that it was a case of domestic terrorism.[55]

In February 2023, Wray appeared in an interview on Fox News endorsing the theory that the COVID-19 virus may have leaked from a laboratory in China. The endorsement comes after the United States Department of Energy and the FBI both released statements saying that it was likely that the virus had come after a lab leak in China. The assessments were made with "low confidence" and "moderate confidence", respectively.[56]

In July 2023, Wray was questioned by House Republicans regarding allegations of political bias and civil liberties violations. The Republicans criticized the FBI's interference in the Hunter Biden investigation and broader abuses of power. However, he defended the FBI's actions to apprehend violent criminals and seize drugs.[57]

Personal life edit

Wray married Helen Garrison Howell, a Yale classmate, in 1989.[5][58] They have a son, Trip, and a daughter, Caroline,[7] and live in Georgia.[14][59]

From January 2016 to July 2017, the month of his confirmation, Wray earned $9.2 million working as an attorney for the law firm King & Spalding, significantly more than his salary as FBI Director. According to a calculation from The Wall Street Journal, Wray's net worth in 2017 was estimated to be $23 million to $42 million.[60]

Wray is a Republican and a member of the Federalist Society.[3]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ NJ.com, NJ Advance Media for (June 8, 2017). "Who is Christopher Wray? The Christie attorney named as Trump's FBI pick". NJ.com.
  2. ^ "Christopher Wray". Biography. August 18, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Barber, C. Ryan (May 9, 2021). "FBI director Chris Wray barely survived the Trump era. Now he's working with Biden's attorney general taking on domestic terrorism and probing Trump allies". Business Insider.
  4. ^ Gerstein, Josh (June 7, 2017). "5 Things to Know About Trump's FBI Pick Christopher Wray". Politico, US.
  5. ^ a b c d "Helen G. Howell Weds C. A. Wray". The New York Times. August 13, 1989.
  6. ^ "Miss Gilda Gates Will Be the Bride Of Cecil Wray Jr". The New York Times. May 5, 1964.
  7. ^ a b Ghosh, Nirmal (August 7, 2017). "Into the minefield steps new FBI chief Christopher Wray". The Straits Times.
  8. ^ "Cecil Wray". Debevoise.
  9. ^ "T. Cecil Wray Memorial Rites Set Tomorrow". The Tennessean. May 14, 1985. p. 15. Retrieved September 15, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Taylor Malone Dies". Kingsport Times. Kingsport, Tennessee. June 30, 1955. p. 25. Retrieved September 15, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Retired grocer dies". The Birmingham News. June 30, 1955. p. 1. Retrieved September 15, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "Obituary: Samuel E. Gates". Daily News. March 10, 1979. p. 23. Retrieved September 15, 2019 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ Soon-to-be FBI director has Adirondack ties Archived March 27, 2019, at the Wayback Machine, Lake Placid News, Chris Knight, July 30, 2017. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c d e Cleary, Tom (May 30, 2017). "Christopher Wray: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy.com.
  15. ^ "Criminal Division: Christopher A. Wray, Assistant Attorney General, Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice". Archived from the original on January 13, 2005. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Christopher A. Wray". United States Department of Justice. June 23, 2016. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  17. ^ "PN705 — Christopher A. Wray — Department of Justice". U.S. Congress. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  18. ^ Markham, Jerry W. (2015). A Financial History of Modern U.S. Corporate Scandals: From Enron to Reform: From Enron to Reform. Routledge. ISBN 9781317478157.
  19. ^ a b c Lichtblau, Eric; Risen, James (January 1, 2006). "Justice Deputy Resisted Parts of Spy Program". The New York Times. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  20. ^ Perez, Evan (July 7, 2013). "Nominee for FBI Top Post Likely to Face Tough Questions". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  21. ^ Eggen, Dan; Kane, Paul (May 16, 2007). "Gonzales Hospital Episode Detailed". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  22. ^ Graff, Garrett M (May 30, 2013). "Forged Under Fire—Bob Mueller and Jim Comey's Unusual Friendship". Washingtonian.com. Retrieved May 3, 2019.
  23. ^ "1 Mar 2005, Page 5 – Asheville Citizen-Times at". Newspapers.com. March 1, 2005. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  24. ^ "Christopher Wray, August 2, 2017 – Present". Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  25. ^ "Trump to Nominate Wray for FBI Director". June 7, 2017.
  26. ^ Brodesser-Akner, Claude (June 2, 2017). "What Christie Says Now That 2 of His Bridgegate Lawyers Could Get Big Jobs From Trump". NJ.com. NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, US.
  27. ^ McGeehan, Patrick (July 7, 2016). "Christie's Phone, a Missing Piece in the Bridge Case, Is Found". The New York Times, US. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  28. ^ Severi, Misty (July 12, 2023). "Chris Christie defends Wray amid GOP hearing he describes as 'theater'". Washington Examiner. Retrieved July 15, 2023.
  29. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Christopher A. Wray to be Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation". whitehouse.gov. June 7, 2017. Retrieved June 15, 2017 – via National Archives.
  30. ^ a b Goldman, Adam; Schmidt, Michael S (July 12, 2017). "Trump's Nominee to Lead F.B.I. Pledges to Resist White House Pressure". The New York Times, US. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  31. ^ Kelly, Erin (July 20, 2017). "Senate Panel Votes to Confirm Christopher Wray as New FBI Director". USA Today, US. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
  32. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (August 1, 2017). "Senate Confirms Wray as Next FBI Director". Washington Post, US. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  33. ^ "Senate Roll Call Vote PN 696". United States Senate. August 1, 2017. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  34. ^ "Statement by Attorney General Sessions on the Swearing in of FBI Director Chris Wray". justice.gov. August 2, 2017. Retrieved August 2, 2017.
  35. ^ "Trump skips ceremony for FBI director amid Russia investigation". POLITICO. Retrieved September 29, 2017.
  36. ^ "Open hearing on worldwide threats". U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. February 13, 2018. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018. Sequence commences at video timestamp 01:15:38.
  37. ^ "Chinese students in US a threat? FBI chief's claim slammed as 'irresponsible'". The Straits Times. February 23, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  38. ^ "Asian American Groups Demand Meeting With FBI Director After Anti-Chinese Statements" (PDF). advancingjustice-aajc.org. March 1, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  39. ^ Christopher Wray (March 21, 2018). "FBI chief on biggest threats: China spies, terror, rise in violent crime" (Interview). Interviewed by Pete Williams. NBC News. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  40. ^ a b c "FBI Director Chris Wray reacts to DOJ watchdog report on Russia investigation: Exclusive". ABC News. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  41. ^ Trump, Donald J. (December 10, 2019). "I don't know what report current Director of the FBI Christopher Wray was reading, but it sure wasn't the one given to me. With that kind of attitude, he will never be able to fix the FBI, which is badly broken despite having some of the greatest men & women working there!". Twitter. Retrieved December 10, 2019.
  42. ^ "Democratic senator asks intelligence agencies to open probe into Bezos phone hack". The Hill. January 29, 2020.
  43. ^ "Senator calls for US intelligence to investigate Jeff Bezos 'phone hacking'". The Guardian. January 29, 2020.
  44. ^ Lippman, Daniel (May 20, 2021). "Inside Trump's push to oust his own FBI chief". POLITICO. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  45. ^ "FBI Director Orders Internal Review Of Michael Flynn Investigation". NPR. May 22, 2020.
  46. ^ "FBI Director Wray opens internal review into how bureau handled Michael Flynn case". Fox News. May 22, 2020.
  47. ^ "Wray claims FBI sees 'anarchists like Antifa' exploiting George Floyd protests". Yahoo News. June 4, 2020.
  48. ^ "FBI Director Christopher Wray's Remarks at Press Conference Regarding Civil Unrest in Wake of George Floyd's Death". Fbi.gov. June 4, 2020.
  49. ^ "FBI director clashes with Trump, says antifa is not an organization". The Independent. September 17, 2020. Retrieved January 16, 2023.
  50. ^ "FBI director: China is 'greatest threat' to US". BBC News. July 8, 2020.
  51. ^ "FBI Director Wray warns of Chinese hacking, espionage threats against American companies". The Hill. July 7, 2020.
  52. ^ "Pompeo urges China's citizens to help change Beijing's 'behaviour'". South China Morning Post. July 24, 2020. Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  53. ^ "FBI Agents Association: FBI Director Christopher Wray Should Complete Ten-Year Term". fbiaa.org. October 28, 2020. Archived from the original on November 1, 2020. Retrieved August 29, 2021.
  54. ^ Walsh, Joe. "Report: Biden Will Keep Chris Wray As FBI Director — If Trump Doesn't Fire Him First". Forbes. Retrieved December 3, 2020.
  55. ^ Naylor, Brian; Lucas, Ryan (March 2, 2021). "Watch: Wray Stresses Role of Right-Wing Extremism In Hearing About Jan. 6 Riot". NPR. Retrieved March 2, 2021.
  56. ^ Beckett, Lois (March 1, 2023). "FBI director endorses theory Covid-19 virus may have leaked from Chinese lab". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved March 1, 2023.
  57. ^ "FBI director faces GOP grilling about alleged agency 'politicization'". abc News. Retrieved July 13, 2023.
  58. ^ Carrejo, Cate (June 7, 2017). "Who Is Helen Wray?". Bustle.com. Bustle, US. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  59. ^ Capelouto, J.D. "Five Things to Know About Chris Wray's Family". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia, US. Retrieved September 21, 2017.
  60. ^ Le Miere, Jason (July 12, 2017). "Christopher Wray will take a significant hit to his salary if confirmed as FBI director". Newsweek.

External links edit

Legal offices
Preceded by United States Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division
2003–2005
Succeeded by
Government offices
Preceded by Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation
2017–present
Incumbent