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Trump Kept Congress in the Dark on Wray Decision

President Donald Trump did not notify senators, who are responsible for the confirmation of nominees, about his nomination of Christopher Wray to lead the FBI.
Image: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley
U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) testifies during a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee June 7, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing on "Fast and Furious, Six Years Later."Alex Wong / Getty Images

Senators who will be responsible for confirming President Donald Trump's newly-named FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray said Wednesday they were not informed of the decision in advance, something that has been a common practice in the past.

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and head of the Senate Judiciary Committee that vets nominees to run the FBI, said he found out about the nomination when Trump tweeted the news.

"We learned from the tweet," Grassley told reporters Wednesday morning. When asked whether the lack of communication was disrespectful, the senator would only repeat his statement that he found out from the tweet.

Grassley later told reporters that he "probably" missed a call from the president.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, said she wasn't given a heads-up either.

The lack of notification also extended to Congressional leadership. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wasn't notified and neither was House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said during a news conference that Trump didn't inform him in advance.

Related: Trump Taps Former Assistant AG for FBI Director

Usually a president notifies Congress not only as a courtesy but to also curry favor for the nominee who must pass through the relevant committee and obtain a majority of votes on the Senate floor.

If confirmed, Wray would replace James Comey who Trump fired last month.

Wray, a former Justice Department official, is not well known on Capitol Hill. Because of his relative anonymity and because of Trump's surprise announcement, senators have yet to release statements either praising or criticizing the pick.

Christopher Wray listens during a press conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Aug. 20, 2004.Jose Romero / AFP - Getty Images file

Speaker Ryan didn't address Wray directly but said his experience is "perfect."

"I don’t know the guy, but I’ve looked at his resume, he seems like to me he’s the perfect kind of person," Ryan said during his news conference. "I thought we should have a career person take over the FBI, someone with a deep bench of experience, he certainly seems to fit that bill."

When asked about the nominee by reporters, Feinstein said "he may be fine."

"I haven't known about it for very long, like for two hours. So obviously I need to look into it," she said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did not say whether he had been informed of the decision ahead of time but released a statement mid-afternoon praising Wray's credentials. He also issued a warning to Democrats that they should focus their position on his experience and not external circumstances surrounding the FBI and its investigation of Russia and the Trump campaign.

"Christopher Wray’s impressive credentials make him more than ready for the sober task of leading the FBI in fulfilling its law enforcement and national security missions, especially at a time when our country faces so many serious threats both at home and abroad. This, of course, is the criteria upon which an FBI Director nominee should be judged," McConnell wrote in the statement.

Kasie Hunt, Marianna Sotomayor and Alex Moe contributed.