June 10, 2017

A few questions about Trump's new FBI director

Guardian - [Christoper] Wray, 50, is likely to face Democratic questions over his independence, given his work as an attorney to Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who chaired Trump’s transition team, and the curious fact that Wray possesses Christie’s old cellphone.

The phone’s location was a mystery during the trial of former Christie allies charged over the 2013 “Bridgegate” scandal. They argued unsuccessfully that the phone should be turned over to help them hunt for text messages between Christie and his chief of staff, which were erased from the chief of staff’s own phone. Christie’s office eventually confirmed that the device was being held by Wray..

Further questions about Wray’s suitability for the FBI job may arise because a partner at the law firm he is poised to depart, King & Spalding, currently serves as an ethics counsel to the trust that holds Trump’s business assets.

An Obama rule renewed by Trump in January bars presidential appointees for two years from working on any matters related to his or her former employer or clients. The FBI is reviewing Trump’s business interests as part of its investigations into ties between his presidential campaign and Russia.

But Norman Eisen, a former ethics counsel to Barack Obama, said the rule should not present a problem to Wray “if Wray did not do work on the Trump matter” himself while at his law firm.

Democratic senators may also be keen to ask Wray about the “energy company president” defended by Wray “in a criminal investigation by Russian authorities” who is listed among his past clients on Wray’s biography at King & Spalding, which has been taken down from the company’s website.

ACLU -   “Christopher Wray’s firm’s legal work for the Trump family, his history of partisan activity, as well as his history of defending Trump’s transition director during a criminal scandal makes us question his ability to lead the FBI with the independence, even-handed judgment, and commitment to the rule of law that the agency deserves. Given that Wray touts his deep involvement in the Bush administration's response to the 9/11 attacks, which includes his connections to some of the most unlawful legal memos on Bush-era torture programs, the Senate should press Wray to come clean about his role in the programs. In this important moment for our country, the American people deserve a commitment from any nominee for FBI director to the foundational principles of our Constitution, and that that commitment outweighs any loyalty to a political party or a single politician. We will be watching closely in the coming days to ensure Wray makes these commitments and earns the trust of the public.

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