The U.S. Senate on Tuesday confirmed former Justice Department lawyer Christopher Wray as FBI chief, nearly three months after the agency's previous director James Comey, was fired by President Donald Trump.
Wray, who was confirmed by vote of 92-5, will take charge of the country's top domestic law enforcement agency during a federal probe into allegations of collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.
Wray is replacing James Comey, who was abruptly fired by Trump in May amid an investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump's campaign. The Judiciary panel is also investigating Russian interference and will hear from Trump officials next week at a hearing.
He will inherit the FBI at a particularly challenging time given the firing of Comey, who was admired within the bureau. At his hearing last week, Wray exhibited his low-key, disciplined style. Still, he said that "anybody who thinks that I would be pulling punches as FBI director sure doesn't know me very well."
Wray, 50, won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, with Republicans and Democrats praising his promise never to let politics get in the way of the bureau's mission.
Asserting his independence at his confirmation hearing, Wray said: "My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law. Those have been my guideposts throughout my career, and I will continue to adhere to them no matter the test."
Wray has worked on white-collar crime and regulatory cases as a partner at the King & Spalding law firm. From May 2001 to May 2005, he held various high-ranking positions in the Justice Department, rising to the head of the criminal division in September 2003. He also served as principal associate deputy attorney general.
He was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Georgia from May 1997 to May 2001.
"Mr. Wray possesses the skill, the character and the unwavering commitment to impartial enforcement of the law that we need in a FBI Director," said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.
The top Democrat on the panel, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Wray "has the strength and fortitude to stand up and do what it is right when tested."
She added, "We need leaders with steel spines, not weak knees, and I am hopeful that Mr. Wray will be just such a leader."
Wray had represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the so-called Bridgegate scandal.
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