United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he plans to nominate former assistant attorney general Christopher Wray as the new Federal Bureau of Investigation Director, a day before a crucial testimony by the intelligence agency chief he abruptly fired.
"I will be nominating Christopher A Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow," Trump tweeted.
The announcement comes ahead of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey's testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on the circumstances that he was fired by Trump amid the ongoing probe into alleged Russian meddling into the US election last November.
Wray would replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who took over when Comey was fired in May.
FBI directors are generally appointed to 10-year terms so they can avoid political interference.
Wray's appointment would still have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Wray, 50, is a litigation attorney with law firm King & Spalding in Washington and Atlanta.
He previously served as the Assistant Attorney General in charge of Criminal Division of the Justice Department from 2003 to 2005.
During his time at Justice Department, Wray became known for overseeing the Enron prosecution task force and playing a major role in the department's post-9/11 response.
"Mr. Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of politics," the New York Times said.
Wray, a former assistant attorney general overseeing the criminal division under President George W. Bush, is likely to allay the fears of FBI agents who worried that Mr. Trump would try to weaken or politicise the FBI," the paper commented.
The timing could also be aimed at blunting the impact of Comey's testimony before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday. Comey is expected to refute Trump's claim that he told the President directly he was not under investigation and is also set to describe interactions with Trump that made him uneasy, CNN reported.
"Wray as FBI head would be stepping into a maelstrom, with the ongoing Russia investigations swirling overhead, as the bureau also attempts to continue anti-terror operations and finding the sources of persistent government leaks, Fox News noted.
Photograph: Molly Riley/Reuters