Tribune Washington Bureau
Posted with permission from Tribune Content Agency

WASHINGTON — The Senate easily confirmed Christopher Wray to lead the FBI on Tuesday, approving President Donald Trump's nominee to succeed James B. Comey.

The vote, 92-5, was a reflection of the Senate's confidence in Wray's credentials as a Yale-educated former Justice Department official and as a top cop who vowed to maintain the bureau's independence, resisting interference even from the president.

Trump abruptly fired Comey in May, and his shifting reasons only deepened questions of possible cooperation between the president's campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election. The president eventually admitted that he fired Comey because he was displeased with the FBI's Russia probe.

Wray started his work in Washington during the George W. Bush administration after serving as a federal prosecutor in Georgia. He rose to become an assistant attorney general.

Later, in private practice he represented New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie amid the "Bridgegate" scandal that led to charges against several of the governor's top aides.

Wray told senators during his confirmation hearing that as FBI director he would not bow to pressure from anyone, even the president. He supports the investigation now underway by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III into Russia's election interference, he said.

"I would consider an effort to tamper with Director Mueller's investigation to be unacceptable and inappropriate," he testified in July.

Five Democrats voted against confirmation: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

Three senators were absent.