Chris Wray has been working as the new FBI director since he was confirmed by the Senate in August. Wray was picked by President Trump to succeed James Comey, who Trump fired in May.
The decision to fire Comey led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to take over the bureau’s investigation into Russian interference in last year’s elections and possible collusion between top aides to the Trump campaign and Russia.
Thursday’s swearing-in ceremony at the FBI headquarters was largely a formality, but Trump’s absence was hard to ignore. Also not attending the ceremony were former FBI directors Comey and Mueller.
In the past, presidents normally make remarks at the ceremony and former directors would be in the front row of the audience. That’s what happened in 2013, when Comey was sworn in.
Had Trump, Comey and Mueller shown up, it would have been incredibly awkward considering the Russia investigation.
The most senior administration official in attendance was Attorney General Jeff Sessions. While he has recused himself from the Russia probe, Sessions played a role in Comey’s firing.
The Washington Post reports:
“Sessions called Wray a ‘brilliant’ attorney dedicated to the rule of law. Many of his comments praising Wray, though, could also be taken as an implicit critique of Comey, whose ouster Sessions helped engineer.
” ‘Nothing is more important to me, you have to know, than ensuring that this nation has a director of the FBI of the highest quality,’ Sessions said. ‘You can know we have spent time — [Deputy Attorney General] Rod Rosenstein and I and others have worked on this evaluation — and I was so pleased, thrilled really, to recommend to President Trump that he be nominated to be your director.’ ”
When it was his turn to speak, Wray promised to “protect the American people and uphold the Constitution.”
According to NPR’s Carrie Johnson, Wray “has spent years working in and around the U.S. Justice Department, making national security policy and overseeing cases against corrupt business executives. But he’s operated outside the spotlight, by design.”
Shunning the spotlight has earned Wray praise and led many to conclude he can help steady the agency at a time of upheaval and increased scrutiny.
Wray is nearly two months into his 10-year term. Comey was fired in his fourth year and Mueller served 12 years.