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Trump taps seasoned law enforcement attorney to head FBI

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump surprised Washington on Wednesday with his choice to replace James Comey a day ahead of the ousted FBI director’s blockbuster congressional testimony, tapping a white-collar defense lawyer with strong law enforcement background. Senate Republicans and some Democrats praised the nomination.

In an early morning two-sentence tweet, Trump said he intended to nominate Christopher Wray, a high-ranking official in George W. Bush’s Justice Department who represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the Bridgegate scandal.

Trump, in a statement later Wednesday, called Wray “an impeccably qualified individual.”

“I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the FBI,” Trump said.

While the choice captured headlines early in the day, it was quickly overwhelmed by the advance release of Comey’s riveting testimony, in which he said Trump sought his loyalty at a January dinner. The former FBI chief also said he told the president three times he was not under investigation in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

The White House and its allies have been looking for ways to offset that potentially damaging testimony and have been working on strategies aimed at undermining Comey’s credibility.

Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9, roiling Washington and multiple congressional investigations and prompting the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The nomination of Wray — and the Senate confirmation hearings for the 10-year post — promise days more of public discussion about Trump and Russia.