Jan 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray as FBI director

FBI director Christopher Wray

FBI Director Christopher Wray at a virtual DOJ news briefing on Oct. 28. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/pool/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden plans to keep Christopher Wray as director of the FBI and has "confidence in the job he is doing," White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed in a tweet Thursday.

The big picture: Wray, who was nominated by former President Trump in 2017 after he fired former FBI Director James Comey, came under heavy criticism from Trump and his allies over the past year.

  • Trump always distrusted the FBI and the intelligence community, and was angered by Wray's perceived failure to punish those involved in the Russia investigation and to investigate Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings.
  • Wray further angered the former president by testifying before Congress that the FBI had not found any evidence of widespread voter fraud, including through mail-in ballots, and that Antifa is an "ideology," not an "organization."

Between the lines: Amid speculation that Wray could be fired, the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA) sent letters to Biden and Trump in late October to urge them to allow the FBI director to finish his 10-year term and insulate the bureau from politics.

What they're saying: House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) praised Biden's decision to return to 10-year terms for FBI directors. "Such terms, which transcend administrations, were intended to insulate a director from the kind of improper personal or political considerations that led Donald Trump to fire former Director James Comey," Schiff wrote in a statement.

What to watch: The FBI is in the early stages of a massive investigation into felony cases "tied to sedition and conspiracy" after Trump supporters led a deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol. The probe spans several states, has so far resulted in over 125 arrests, and involves multiple U.S. Attorneys' offices.

The bottom line: FBIAA President Brian O’Hare wrote last year that the FBI is facing a “daunting threat environment,” citing domestic and foreign terrorism, espionage, cyber-attacks, and traditional crimes. After the siege on the Capitol, the agency only faces more potential threats to deal with.

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