Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / APddd

Christopher Wray, President Trump's pick to replace James Comey as FBI Director, told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his opening statement at his confirmation hearing that he hopes to "lead an independent Bureau that will make every American proud" — immediately addressing one of the biggest concerns for the position following Comey's firing in the midst of the federal government's Russia probe.

Two big quotes to that end:

  • "No one asked me for any loyalty oath ... I sure as heck didn't offer one."
  • "I do not consider Director Mueller to be on a witch hunt."

An excerpt from Wray's opening statement: "If I am given the honor of leading this agency, I will never allow the FBI's work to be driven by anything other than the facts, the law, and the impartial pursuit of justice. Period. My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law. They have been my guideposts throughout my career, and I will continue to adhere to them no matter the test."

More live updates:

  • Russian interference: Wray says that his knowledge is limited to public information on the topic, but he has "no reason whatsoever to doubt the assessment of the intelligence community." He also called Russia an adversary "in some situations," specifically citing election interference as an "adversarial act."
  • Mueller's investigation: "I would consider an attempt to tamper with Mueller's investigation to be unacceptable and inappropriate."
  • Relationship with POTUS: "I think the relationship between any FBI Director and any president needs to be a professional one, not a social one."
  • If Trump asks him to do something unlawful: "I'd try to talk him out of it...if that failed, I would resign."
  • Comey's firing: Wray said that he did not discuss the firing with anyone in the White House.
  • Flashback: Wray confirmed that he was one of the Department of Justice officials — along with Mueller and Comey — set to resign over the Bush-era Stellarwind surveillance program in 2004.
  • The Trump Jr. emails, generally: "Any threat or effort to interfere with our election by any nation state... is the kind of thing the FBI would want to know."
  • On whistleblowers: "Retaliation against whistleblowers is just wrong. Period."
  • Classified information: Wray said that the leaking of classified information might harm information sharing with our closest allies — interesting given Trump's disclosure of Israeli ISIS intel to Russian officials in the Oval Office.
  • On torture: "My view is that torture is wrong, it's unacceptable, it's illegal, and I think it's ineffective." He said that the FBI would not utilize torture on his watch and stated that he has no recollection of reviewing or approving memos drafted by John Yoo in 2002 authorizing torture during his time at the Department of Justice.
  • Driving the point home: "Anybody who thinks that I would be pulling punches as the FBI Director sure doesn't know me that well."

Some endorsements:

  • Former Georgia Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn called Wray "one of the most skillful investigative lawyers in the country" with "a proven track record" in an opening statement.
  • A huge bipartisan group of United States attorneys, including Eric Holder, Attorney General under President Obama, signed onto a letter backing Wray.

Background: Learn more about Wray's credentials for the job.

Go deeper

Updated 2 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Biden has arrived at the White House and he will sign executive orders and other presidential actions.

30 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.