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Christopher Wray, former lawyer for Christie, tapped to lead FBI

The former Justice Department official represented Christie during the criminal investigation into the Bridgegate scandal.

Christopher Wray is President Trump’s pick to lead the FBI.
Christopher Wray is President Trump’s pick to lead the FBI.Read moreAP Photo / Lawrence Jackson

President Trump plans to nominate Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official who served as Gov. Christie's lawyer during the George Washington Bridge lane-closures scandal, to lead the FBI.

Christie told reporters last week that he first met Wray when the two served in the Bush administration. Christie was the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, and Wray was the deputy attorney general.

The Republican New Jersey governor declined to say whether he had recommended Wray to Trump, who announced his intention to name Wray to the FBI post on Wednesday.

"I don't talk about what advice I give to the president of the United States," Christie said.

But on Wednesday, he emphasized his confidence in Wray.

“When I was simply at the lowest point of my professional life, right after Bridgegate was revealed … I know every good lawyer in New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and the first call I made and the only call I made was Chris Wray,” Christie said on MSNBC.

After serving as deputy attorney general, Wray led the Justice Department's criminal division. Christie said he worked with Wray during the Justice Department's investigation into an accounting scandal at the pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb.

In 2005, the company agreed to pay $300 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement.

"I have the utmost confidence in Chris. He's an outstanding lawyer," Christie told reporters in Trenton last week. "He has absolute integrity and honesty. I think the president certainly would not be making a mistake if he asked Chris Wray to be FBI director."

Christie hired Wray to represent him in the federal criminal investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.

Defense attorneys for two former Christie allies had issued a subpoena for the cellphone the governor used during the September 2013 scheme and its aftermath, but a federal judge ruled the subpoena was too broad.

A jury in November convicted Bill Baroni, Christie's former top executive appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie's former deputy chief of staff, of intentionally misusing Port Authority resources and conspiracy, among other charges.

Prosecutors accused Baroni, Kelly, and former Port Authority official David Wildstein of causing massive traffic jams near the bridge in order to punish a mayor for his refusal to endorse Christie's 2013 reelection campaign.

Wildstein pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing. Baroni and Kelly, who were each sentenced to prison, are appealing their guilty verdicts. Christie was not charged in the case.

The president announced his decision to nominate Wray on Twitter on Wednesday morning..

The pick drew quick praise from U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan (R., Pa.), a former U.S. attorney in Philadelphia, who worked with Wray on a corporate fraud task force after the Enron scandal.

"His judgment is sound, his command of complex topics complete, and his demeanor even-heeled," Meehan said in a statement. "He was previously confirmed by unanimous consent for a top position in the Justice Department and he should be as well-received by the Senate again. I commend the president for his patient search and his wise selection."

Trump's announcement came one day before the FBI director whom Trump fired last month, James Comey, is to testify in public on Capitol Hill for the first time since his dismissal.

Comey, during his appearance before the Senate intelligence committee, is expected to describe his encounters with Trump in the weeks before his firing May 9. Comey could offer new details regarding discussions with Trump about the federal investigation into Russia's election meddling and possible coordination with the Trump campaign.

The White House and its allies have been looking for ways to offset that potentially damaging testimony and have been working on strategies aimed at undermining Comey's credibility.

Staff writers Jonathan Tamari and Maddie Hanna contributed to this article, which also contains information from the Associated Press.

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