Trump announced his nomination of Chris Wray to be the next head of the FBI on Wednesday. The 4:44 a.m. Tweet arrived two hours before intelligence chiefs were set to testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee and left the nomination sufficiently overshadowed during the normal course of the news day. An announcement Callum Borchers of The Washington Post called “poorly timed and highly disorganized.”
Nobody knew Trump was going to nominate Wray until the moment Trump’s tiny fingers pushed the button that allows him unfiltered communication to the American people: “Tweet.”
But it isn’t just the oddly timed announcement that has some raising a dubious brow in Chris Wray’s direction.
Wray was the criminal defense attorney that represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie during the Bridgegate investigation. While there were some questionable happenings concerning one of Christie’s missing cell phones appearing in Wray’s possession, that is not likely to derail his nomination.
Wray, while having the appearance of being a prime candidate for the job, has ties to two Russian state-owned oil companies — Rosneft and Gazprom — through his law firm, King & Spalding.
While Gazprom has not been connected to Trump in media reports, Rosneft has been making regular appearances in the form of the company’s connection to Carter Page.
Of course, there is also the question of accusations raised in the now legendary Steele Dossier, a 35-page report from a former British MI-6 operative who now works for Orbis Business Intelligence, a firm used by both major American political parties for opposition research.
Related: The Evidence Is Growing That The Trump Dossier Isn’t “Fake News”
The dossier claims Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin offered erstwhile candidate Trump via Carter Page a 19 percent stake in the company for lifting sanctions imposed by the Obama administration. This allegation seems to coincide with a trip Carter Page made to Moscow last July.
According to Kenneth F. McCallion who wrote an article in USA Today:
“The law firm’s representation of Gazprom raises even more serious conflict issues for Wray. Gazprom was a partner in RosUkrEnergo AG (“RUE”), which is controlled by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash. He is under federal indictment in Chicago for racketeering charges, has had numerous financial dealings with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and is generally considered to be a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.”
While Wray did not personally work on any dealings with the two oil companies, it still represents a significant conflict of interest. Should he be confirmed, he would likely need to recuse himself from any investigation related to Russia or possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Featured image of Chris Wray via screen capture from CBS