MIAMI (CBSMiami) – President Donald Trump’s pick to head the FBI – Christopher Wray –faced questioning about his loyalty and the bureau’s Russia investigation during his Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
Wray says people will be making a grave mistake if they associate his low-key demeanor with a lack of resolve.
“My commitment is to the rule of law, to the constitution, where ever they may lead,” said Wray.
Senators questioning Wray wanted to be assured that he will be unbiased especially if asked for a pledge of loyalty as his predecessor, fired FBI Director James Comey, was allegedly asked by Trump.
“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,” Wray said during the hearing.
Wray says no one in the Trump administration has asked for his loyalty and that he would not offer it, if asked.
“I believe to my core there is only one right way to do this job and that is with strict independence,” said Wray.
Senator Patrick Leahy asked Wray what he would do if the president asked him to do something unlawful.
“First, I would try to talk him out of it and if that fails I would resign,” said Wray.
Wray was also asked about Russia.
“Is Russia our friend or our enemy,” asked Senator Lindsey Graham.
“I think Russia is a foreign nation that we have to deal with very warily,” responded Wray.
He also addressed an investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election.
“From what I reviewed, I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community,” said Wray.
Unlike the president, Wray supports Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign.
“I do not consider Mueller to be on a witch hunt,” said Wray.
Wray was nominated after Comey was fired two months ago.
When asked if he discussed Comey’s firing, he said “I did not discuss those topics at all with anyone in the White House.”
Wray is a well-established Washington lawyer who was an assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush.
Wray led the Justice Department’s criminal division while Comey was deputy attorney general.
If confirmed as its next director, Wray’s mission would be to bring stability to the FBI and its more than 35,000 employees.
President Trump said he is “an impeccably qualified individual” and a “fierce guardian of the law.”
A graduate of Yale Law, Wray is a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Georgia.
Just before 9/11, he became associate deputy attorney general and later moved on to head the Justice Department’s criminal division.
Last year, Wray served as Chris Christie’s lawyer – hired to navigate the “Bridgegate’ scandal.
Former Justice Department officials spoke highly of Wray, describing him as: “the right man at the right time for the nation and the FBI.”
Wray will likely take charge as a law enforcement source told CBS News: in general, this is “not a great time” at the FBI.
With Republicans in control of the Senate, many expect Wray will be confirmed as the next FBI director.