Five questions for Trump’s FBI director nominee Christopher Wray

On Wednesday the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Christopher Wray, President Trump’s nominee to replace James Comey as FBI director. Anyone taking on this critical role must be able to demonstrate that they are committed to independence and to the rule of law — and as such, there are a number of issues that Wray should address as Congress evaluates his nomination. Here are five questions Wray should be asked in the Senate hearing this week:

  1. You have spent the last 12 years representing major corporations — including national and international financial institutions, and pharmaceutical, healthcare, and telecommunications companies — against criminal and regulatory investigations and action. And some observers have questioned your approach in white collar enforcement actions, when you headed the Criminal Division, of letting companies submit to monitoring and paying restitution to avoid prosecution. Why should the Senate have confidence in your ability to vigorously investigate and prosecute white collar crime against those and similar interests as head of the FBI?
  2. You have spent the last 12 years representing major corporations — including national and international financial institutions, and pharmaceutical, healthcare, and telecommunications companies — against criminal and regulatory investigations and action. And some observers have questioned your approach in white collar enforcement actions, when you headed the Criminal Division, of letting companies submit to monitoring and paying restitution to avoid prosecution. Why should the Senate have confidence in your ability to vigorously investigate and prosecute white collar crime against those and similar interests as head of the FBI?
  3. The FBI is tasked with prosecuting federal election crimes. Our democracy rests on the ability of every voter to cast a ballot that will be counted, and on every ballot being cast legitimately. Fortunately, people showing up at the polls pretending to be someone else and illegally casting a vote under that person’s name almost never happens. Despite President Trump’s views, study after study has shown that in-person voter fraud is exceeding rare. Do you believe that in-person voter fraud is a significant problem in the United States? If so, what is the specific evidence supporting your belief?
  4. There have been news reports that your law firm has represented members of the Trump family. Who has your firm represented, and what for? How would you handle allegations or evidence of illegal activity involving the president, the Trump Organization, or members of the Trump family?
  5. You were in the Justice Department a decade ago when White House officials tried to persuade a hospitalized Attorney General Ashcroft to approve the continuation of the Bush administration warrantless surveillance program without change, over the objection of Acting Attorney General James Comey and others. There were rumors that top DOJ officials were considering resigning over these issues, and you reportedly were one of those officials. As FBI director, what action would you take if this or any future White House took action that you considered improper?

This article was written by Arn Pearson in his capacity as a senior fellow for People For the American Way, was first published on PFAW's blog, and was reprinted by Salon.

Arn Pearson

Arn Pearson is CMD's General Counsel and Policy Advisor. He previously served as the Vice President for Policy and Litigation at Common Cause. Arn has worked for more than 20 years developing federal and state policy and legal strategies around campaign finance reform, government ethics, corporate accountability, and tax reform.