President Donald Trump's choice to replace James Comey as head of the FBI headed toward Senate confirmation on Tuesday
The Senate was slated to vote on the nomination of Christopher Wray, the former high-ranking official in President George W. Bush's Justice Department who oversaw investigations into corporate fraud. Once confirmed, the 50-year-old Wray would inherit the FBI at a particularly challenging time given Trump's firing of Comey, who was admired within the bureau.
Wray won unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, with Republicans and Democrats praising his promise never to let politics get in the way of the bureau's mission.
"Beyond credentials, I believe Mr. Wray has the right view of the job," said Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
Wray would replace Comey, who was abruptly fired by Trump in May amid an investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump's campaign. The Judiciary panel is also investigating Russian interference.
At his confirmation hearing, Wray told senators he "sure as heck" would not offer a pledge of loyalty to the president.
Asserting his independence, he said, "My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law. Those have been my guideposts throughout my career, and I will continue to adhere to them no matter the test."
Democrats said Wray has the qualifications and independence to lead the bureau.
The top Democrat on the panel, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, said Wray "has the strength and fortitude to stand up and do what it is right when tested."
She added: "We need leaders with steel spines, not weak knees, and I am hopeful that Mr. Wray will be just such a leader."
Wray has worked on white-collar crime and regulatory cases as a partner at the King & Spalding law firm. From May 2001 to May 2005, he held various high-ranking positions in the Justice Department, rising to the head of the criminal division in September 2003. He also served as principal associate deputy attorney general.
He was a federal prosecutor in the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Georgia from May 1997 to May 2001.
Wray had represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the so-called Bridgegate scandal.