Senate Judiciary schedules vote next week on FBI director

FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 12, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a committee vote next week on Christopher Wray’s nomination to be FBI director.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa says he’s impressed with Wray, who promised at his Wednesday hearing to never let politics get in the way of the bureau’s mission.

Grassley said Thursday that Wray is “the independent leader the FBI needs,” and that he takes Wray at his word that his loyalty will be to the Constitution.

Wray would replace James Comey, who was abruptly fired by President Donald Trump in May amid an investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to Trump’s campaign.

The committee vote is scheduled for July 20. Votes on the Judiciary panel are often delayed a week at the request of any committee member. Grassley said that hasn’t been the tradition with FBI nominees and he hopes that won’t happen with Wray.

Democrats on the committee signaled support for Wray, but it was unclear if they will try and delay the vote.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, said she will vote for Wray. She noted Wednesday that nominations are often delayed, but said she hopes that the vote on Wray will be “sooner rather than later.”

Wray met Thursday with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. That panel is doing its own investigation into Russian meddling.

Warner said he would vote for Wray after he got assurances from him that as FBI director he would “work with the investigation, in terms of access to materials, access to information.”