WASHINGTON — Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be FBI director, sought at his confirmation hearing Wednesday to show lawmakers that he could protect the bureau’s independence and resist pressure from the White House.
On a day when Trump again called the Russia investigation “a witch hunt,” Wray said he disagreed, told senators that no one at the White House had asked him to pledge loyalty to the president and vowed to resign should the president ask him to do anything illegal.
Wray’s expected confirmation is seen by many FBI agents as a chance to stabilize an institution shaken by the events of the past year, including Trump’s dismissal of its previous director, James Comey, and subsequent revelations about the president’s attempts to influence Comey. Wray, dressed in a pinstripe suit and purple tie, calmly reassured senators that he could rebuff any overtures from 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. Period,” Wray told senators.
The hearing was a chance for the 50-year-old Wray, a private lawyer and former top Justice Department prosecutor, to demonstrate that he was the person to lead the nation’s premier law enforcement agency under extraordinary circumstances. Many of the questions from senators centered on how he would deal with Trump, referring to Comey’s tense interactions with the president.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., asked what Wray would do if the president requested that he take any steps that Wray believed were illegal.
“First, I would try to talk…
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