Christopher Wray, whose nomination to head the FBI goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, is a former Justice Department official known as a workhorse who eschews the spotlight, reports the Wall Street Journal. Current and former FBI agents say that is exactly what the bureau needs—someone who focuses on running investigations while leaving politics to others—as the FBI navigates turbulence following the firing of James Comey. Other agents and legal observers wonder if Wray, 50, who has spent a decade as a defense lawyer, has the gravitas to buck political pressure and chart an independent course for the nation’s premier law-enforcement agency. “Chris looks for the way that creates the least drama,” said John Richter, an attorney who worked with Wray at the Justice Department and at his law firm, King & Spalding.
Few would say that about Comey, who was known for his dramatically timed press conferences, his performances before Congress and information leaks to the press. Comey was beloved by many agents for standing up for them, but he also attracted sometimes-unwelcome attention to the agency. Democrats plan to press Wray on whether he could stand up to White House pressure if necessary. Comey said that President Trump demanded his loyalty and pressured him to drop an investigation of a former top aide, allegations the White House has denied. Frank Montoya Jr., a longtime FBI agent and supervisor who retired last year, said Wray is “going to be viewed first and foremost as a political appointment by a president who demanded loyalty from the last director and didn’t get it, so he fired him.” Wray’s associates said he would walk away from the job if put in a compromising situation.