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Tuesday June 25th, 2019 1:44AM

The Latest: McConnell praises Trump's FBI pick

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and choice for new FBI director (all times local):

3:30 p.m.

The top Republican in the Senate says the "impressive credentials" of President Donald Trump's pick for FBI director make him more than ready for the "sober task" of leading the FBI.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement Wednesday that the job of FBI director is difficult, but he's confident that Christopher Wray "is more than qualified and quite capable of shouldering this important responsibility."

Trump announced Wednesday that he was nominating Wray to replace James Comey. Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9.

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1:45 p.m.

The American Civil Liberties Union says it has concerns about President Donald Trump's pick for FBI director.

The group's national political director, Faiz Shakir, says he questions Christopher Wray's ability to be independent, given his representation of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Christie is a Trump ally and informal adviser.

The White House touted Wray's involvement following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when the Justice Department and FBI were shifting their focus to counterterrorism. But the ACLU says that means Wray was also involved in legal memos on Bush-era torture programs. The group urged the Senate to press him on those connections.

Shakir says he questions whether Wray can lead the FBI with the "even-handed judgment, and commitment to the rule of law that the agency deserves."

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1:10 p.m.

President Donald Trump is expressing confidence in his pick for FBI director.

Speaking to reporters in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Trump said that Christopher Wray is "gonna be great."

Trump announced his plans to nominate Wray, a former Justice Department official under George W. Bush, earlier in the day on Twitter.

In a White House press release, Trump called Wray an "impeccably qualified individual." Trump said he knows Wray will "again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity" if confirmed by the Senate.

Wray, in the same statement issued by the White House, said he was honored to be selected.

He said he looked forward to leading "an extraordinary group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to protecting this country."

Wray works at the King & Spalding law firm. He served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's personal lawyer during the George Washington Bridge lane-closing investigation

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12:58 p.m.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee says President Donald Trump's pick to lead the FBI is a "suitable candidate."

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, praised Christopher Wray's legal credentials and law enforcement background. He noted that Wray was confirmed unanimously by voice vote to lead the Justice Department's criminal division in 2003.

"If confirmed, this experience would serve him well at the helm of the FBI," Grassley said.

Grassley said it could take "a couple weeks" to receive all of Wray's nomination paperwork, and the committee will then begin considering his nominations. After this week, Congress is only in session for six weeks before the five-week August recess.

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12:40 p.m.

A Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says he's encouraged that President Donald Trump's pick to head the FBI has law enforcement experience.

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons says Christopher Wray "is a serious and experienced attorney" — and Coons notes Wray's experience at the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration.

Coons says he's encouraged that Wray is a veteran of law enforcement "rather than a career in partisan politics, as was rumored over the past several weeks."

Wray headed the department's criminal division in the Bush administration and oversaw investigations into corporate fraud.

Coons says it's critical at this moment for the FBI to have "have strong, respected, and independent leadership."

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12:02 p.m.

Former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn of Georgia is praising President Donald Trump's pick for FBI Director.

Nunn said in a statement Wednesday that Christopher Wray is an "outstanding lawyer who is known in the legal community for his integrity, his commitment to the rule of law, and his independent thinking."

Wray is a partner in the law firm King & Spalding. Nunn was a former partner at the firm.

Nunn said he has known Wray for many years and "his commitment to fairness and justice gives me confidence that he will put the country first in every decision that he makes."

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11:14 a.m.

The top two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee weren't told ahead of time that President Donald Trump would announce his pick to lead the FBI, lawyer Christopher Wray.

A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said his office found out when Trump tweeted the news Wednesday morning.

The panel's top Democrat, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, also wasn't told. She told reporters she needs time to review his credentials.

The Judiciary panel oversees the FBI director's nomination. A senior member of the committee, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, immediately praised Wray, saying he has "impeccable credentials, vast experience, and strong support across the board."

Another GOP senator was more cautious. Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said in a statement that "we will evaluate Christopher Wray's qualifications" in the coming weeks.

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11:09 a.m

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is congratulating President Donald Trump on nominating Christopher Wray to lead the FBI.

Sessions says Wray, a former Justice Department official under George W. Bush, is a "leader of proven skill, independence and integrity." He says all Americans can have confidence in Wray.

Sessions says Wray "combines a brilliant legal mind, outstanding accomplishments and a proven record of public service," having prosecuted cases alongside FBI agents as a U.S. attorney.

Wray headed the department's Criminal Division in 2003, when that division handled national security matters. Sessions says he worked closely with the FBI as it shifted its focus from violent crime to counterterrorism after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Sessions says Wray has "tremendous respect" for FBI employees, and they respect him too.

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11:10 a.m.

An association of FBI agents says it is looking forward to meeting with FBI director nominee Christopher Wray.

Thomas O'Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, says in a statement that the group's leadership hopes to meet with Wray very soon.

He says it's important the organization representing more than 13,000 agents "understands his views on the FBI, special agents, and the criminal and national security threats that agents combat daily."

President Donald Trump announced Wray as his pick early Wednesday.

Wray served in a leadership role in the George W. Bush Justice Department, rising to head the criminal division and overseeing investigations into corporate fraud. With a strong law enforcement background, Wray is a traditional choice for the job. Trump had entertained current and former politicians for the role.

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10:40 a.m.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says President Donald Trump didn't consult him before announcing that he wants former Justice Department official Christopher Wray to lead the FBI.

But Ryan says Wray seems like "the perfect kind of person" to succeed fired FBI Director James Comey.

The Wisconsin Republican says he favored a "career person" to take over the FBI. And Ryan says that Wray — a lawyer who served in the Justice Department under former President George W. Bush — "certainly seems to fit that bill."

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10:05 a.m.

House Republicans say President Donald Trump's pick to head the FBI seems like a good choice.

Lawmakers attending Wednesday morning's closed-door caucus said they had no early word of the president's selection of Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official who served as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's personal lawyer during the George Washington Bridge lane-closing investigation.

Rep. Mike Conaway of Texas said, "At first blush, he seems like a great choice to lead the FBI." Conaway he wasn't given a heads up and told reporters: "you all surprised me on the way in."

Rep. Pete King of New York said, "I assume it's a good choice."

___

8:05 a.m.

President Donald Trump says he'll nominate a former Justice Department official as FBI director.

Trump's tweets that his choice — lawyer Christopher Wray — is "a man of impeccable credentials."

There's no more information in the two-sentence tweet that ends, "Details to follow."

Wray emerged from a list of former prosecutors, politicians and law enforcement officials interviewed by Trump since the president fired FBI Director James Comey last month.

Wray works at the King & Spalding law firm. He represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case. Two former Christie aides were convicted of plotting to close bridge lanes to punish a Democratic mayor who wouldn't endorse the Republican governor.

Wray worked for the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.

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