Washington — Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s choice to head the FBI, found bipartisan support on the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday, with Sen. Richard Blumenthal among the Democrats who said they would support the nominee.
Wray, 50, told senators on the Judiciary panel that he would quit if Trump asked him to do anything illegal. He also said he did not consider special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether there were Russian ties to the Trump campaign “a witch hunt.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Trump tweeted, “This is the greatest Witch Hunt in political history. Sad!”
Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, who said the president had asked him to pledge his loyalty.
Wray repeatedly said he’d remain independent of the White House.
During his opening statement, he said, “I will never allow the FBI’s work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period.”
Blumenthal asked Wray if “in your view is obstruction of justice a serious crime?”
Wray responded “absolutely.”
Wray also agreed with Blumenthal that lying to the FBI “is a serious crime.”
Blumenthal asked Wray if “to your knowledge” there was interference or obstruction of justice in the investigation into Russian meddling.
“I don’t have knowledge to that effect,” Wray responded, adding that Mueller “would have jurisdiction over that.”
Blumenthal said, “You and I have talked about the need for the FBI to be independent and immune from political interference because I foresee a firestorm brewing that will threaten the FBI.”
“I am going to support you because I do believe you will provide the integrity and independence the FBI needs based on your record and your experience and expertise,” Blumenthal said.
Wray is a 1989 graduate of Yale University who earned his law degree from Yale law school. He worked as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta, leaving the Justice Department in 2005 after rising to head of the agency’s criminal division.