WASHINGTON — Sen. Chuck Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will review Christopher Wray’s nomination to be the next FBI director.
But the Iowa Republican learned of Wray’s selection the same way as many others Wednesday — via a tweet by President Donald Trump.
Grassley said the lack of advance notice didn’t bother him. He had consulted with the president previously about filling the position and felt that a good selection process was in place.
Grassley had kind words for Wray, too.
“Wray comes with the right legal and law enforcement credentials for the job,” Grassley said. “He has held various positions in the Justice Department including his service as head of the criminal division, and he has been a successful lawyer in private practice.”
Indeed, most Iowa and Nebraska lawmakers provided statements welcoming the nomination, which follows the high-profile firing of James Comey.
“Chris Wray is tough, qualified and principled,” Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. “I look forward to sitting down with him to discuss both his commitment to our justice system and his vision for restoring public trust.”
A spokeswoman for Sen. Joni Ernst said the Iowa Republican looks forward to “thoroughly vetting Christopher Wray and ensuring he is a good choice for the position of FBI director.”
Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., also said she looks forward to the confirmation process.
“FBI nominee Wray has valuable experience and strong credentials,” Fischer said.
Trump announced Wray’s nomination the day before Comey is expected to testify that Trump asked for his loyalty and pressured him to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
While the House won’t vote on Wray’s confirmation, Republican House members from Nebraska and western Iowa were largely upbeat about his selection.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., whose district includes a southern piece of the metro area, said it’s prudent for Trump to fill the position quickly.
“The FBI is a trusted institution, and, moving ahead, it is important to affirm that trust,” Fortenberry said.
Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, said he’s confident that the Senate will conduct a full and thorough vetting of the nominee.
“It is imperative the next director places enforcement of the law and conducting the work of the FBI in a nonpartisan manner above all else,” Young said.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., whose district includes most of the Omaha metropolitan area, noted that he hadn’t personally met Wray and that he’s looking forward to the confirmation process.
“I am initially optimistic of his abilities to lead the FBI based on his many years, depth and level of experience in judicial matters,” Bacon said.
Overall, the response in the Republican-controlled Senate to Wray’s nomination was supportive but cautious. Wray would need a simple majority to be approved.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., praised Wray, saying his “impressive credentials make him more than ready for the sober task of leading the FBI in fulfilling its law enforcement and national security missions, especially at a time when our country faces so many serious threats both at home and abroad.”
Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, a Democrat on the Judiciary panel, said he, too, was encouraged that Trump’s pick is a veteran of law enforcement “rather than a career in partisan politics, as was rumored over the past several weeks.”
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.