Durbin Questions FBI Director Nominee Christopher Wray At Judiciary Hearing

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned Christopher Wray, who is nominated to serve as FBI Director, during his confirmation hearing.  Durbin pressed Mr. Wray on whether or not he would meet one-on-one with the President in the Oval Office and whether he will create contemporaneous, written reports during his time as FBI Director, should he be confirmed.

“We are in an unusual moment in American history where Mr. Comey was fired from his job and characterized by the President of the United States as a ‘nut job,’ and was fired for the stated reason by the President because the Russian investigation was underway and the President believed it was a cloud on his presidency,” said Durbin.  “As unusual as it may be, would you meet in the Oval Office with the President with no one else present?” 

Mr. Wray responded that it would depend on the circumstances, but that he would prefer to work through the Office of the Deputy Attorney General to ensure that there is not a one-on-one meeting and that the relationship between the president the FBI Director should be a professional one, not a social one.

Durbin continued: “Now the second thing, which I think is extraordinary and I don’t know if there is any precedent in the history of the United States since the creation of the FBI, was Mr. Comey’s decision after meeting with the President and discussions with the President to create a contemporaneous, written record.  Tell me your reaction.  Do you feel bound or at least do you feel the recommendation from Comey’s action to create contemporaneous, written records of your conversations with the President if you become Director of the FBI?”

Mr. Wray said that he would evaluate this on a case-by-case basis, distinguishing between routine conversations and significant conversations. 

Durbin also asked for Mr. Wray’s reaction to the President suggesting that the U.S. and Russia should work together on cybersecurity and his thoughts on the relationship between the FBI and the Muslim-American community.  In a second set of questions, Durbin asked Mr. Wray about his role in the George W. Bush Administration “torture memos” and his thoughts on the importance of enforcing the laws on obstruction of justice.

Video of Durbin’s remarks is available here. 

Audio of Durbin’s remarks is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks for TV Stations is available here.

Yesterday, Durbin met with Mr. Wray to discuss an array of key issues, including his thoughts on Russia’s involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, Department of Justice (DOJ) funding for Chicago, criminal justice reform, Mr. Wray’s role in the George W. Bush era “torture memos”, and the relationship between the FBI and the American-Muslim community. 

Christopher Wray was born in New York City and earned his B.A. and J.D. from Yale.  He clerked for Fourth Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig in Richmond, Virginia, and then began his career as an associate at King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta before becoming an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia from 1997-2001.  He next served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General and as the Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Justice Department.  He became the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division in 2003.  He headed the Criminal Division until 2005, and then returned to private practice at King & Spalding where he has remained since.