It’s no Red Scare, but perhaps it qualifies as a Red Uneasiness — the Trump administration just can’t seem to manage not being haunted by Russians at every turn. Attorney Christopher Wray, Trump’s pick for FBI Director after he fired James Comey in May, once represented a client who was under criminal investigation in … you guessed it, Russia. That detail might have mysteriously disappeared, however, were it not for a web archive that saved a cache of Wray’s old website bio even after that bit of copy was removed sometime this year.
King and Spalding, the law firm where Wray worked, say that Wray updated his bio long before he was considered for Comey’s vacant seat, and that the unnamed client was removed to make Wray’s bio more up to date. Wray is also hardly the only employee of King and Spalding to work on cases related to Russia, especially in the energy sector. CNN notes that the firm has represented various American clients in dealings with Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and Gazprom. It’s not known who exactly Wray’s client might have been — King and Spalding cited client confidentiality and would divulge only that the client was “an energy company president in a criminal investigation by Russian authorities,” an American citizen, and that the criminal investigation was mostly a matter of “leverage.”
The Russian connection aside, it makes sense that Wray would be considered as Comey’s replacement. For two years during the George W. Bush administration, he headed up the criminal division at the Justice Department as Assistant Attorney General. He’s been an attorney since the 1990s and worked with the Justice Department in various capacities since 2001. Not only did he rise to the ranks of assistant attorney general, he earned the Edmund J. Randolph Award, which the White House blog notes “is the DOJ’s most prestigious award for leadership and public service.”
That said, despite Mr. Wray’s qualifications, one would think the Trump administration might have dug a little harder into his background, as the Senate surely will do during confirmation hearings. While one client over the course of a long career shouldn’t necessarily disqualify Wray, someone in the White House could have considered how it looks to fire one FBI director for investigating ties to Russia and then nominating one who is linked (however tenuously) … to Russia.