FBI director nominee Christopher Wray hearing set amid Russia, Trump Jr. turmoil

FBI director nominee Christopher Wray hearing set amid Russia, Trump Jr. turmoil
Posted at 9:03 AM, Jul 12, 2017

President Donald Trump's pick to run the FBI is likely to run into new questions about Russia's interference in the US elections at his confirmation hearing Wednesday, as a political storm has swept up around the President's eldest son.

Trump's selection of Christopher Wray, a former federal prosecutor who enjoys broad bipartisan support, has been viewed as a rare bright spot amid the calamity spurred by the President's firing of former FBI Director James Comey in May.



But Wray is now set to appear before the Senate judiciary committee, one of the four congressional committees looking into Russian interference in the election, just as Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya has reignited questions about the Trump campaign's involvement. A Justice Department-appointed special counsel is also investigating Russian interference in last year's election.

When asked whether Trump Jr.'s email would come up during the hearing, Senate judiciary committee chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill, "I don't know whether we could expect any answers from him on that subject."

The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, issued a statement Tuesday that didn't mention Wray's confirmation but did highlight how she sees the Trump Jr. emails.

"There are still many questions that must be answered," Feinstein said in the statement. "That's why I've urged Chairman Grassley to move quickly---this issue is squarely within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee and I believe we need to have Donald Trump, Jr., and other individuals come before the committee, in open session, as soon as possible."

Last summer, Trump Jr. agreed to meet with Veselnitskaya, whom he believed to be a "Russian government attorney" after receiving an email offering him "very high level and sensitive information" that would "incriminate" Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, according to emails the younger Trump publicly released on Tuesday.

Trump Jr.'s attorney has dismissed the revelations as "much ado about nothing" and Trump Jr. said in a statement Tuesday morning that he thought the information being offered was "Political Opposition Research."

"I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn't work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet. I decided to take the meeting. The woman, as she has said publicly, was not a government official," Trump Jr. said in a statement he tweeted along with the emails. "And, as we have said, she had no information to provide and wanted to talk about adoption policy and the Magnitsky Act."

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders read a statement from the President defending his son during an off-camera briefing with reporters Tuesday.

"My son is a high-quality person and I applaud his transparency," Sanders said, reading a statement from Trump.

Wray came up as a top official in the Justice Department under George W. Bush, before going into private practice. As a private lawyer, he represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he was interviewed by the FBI as part of the Bridgegate scandal.

Last month, the Senate judiciary committee released last month a comprehensive, 68-page questionnaire that Wray had filled out.

The Office of Government Ethics released a financial disclosure earlier this week from Wray that shows he received a partnership share from his Atlanta law firm of $9.2 million over the current and previous calendar year.