Wray, who Trump calls “an impeccably qualified individual who will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity,” is a litigation partner in King & Spalding — a law firm which represents Rosneft and Gazprom, two of Russia’s largest state-controlled oil companies.
Former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the FBI) James Comey’s ‘shock and awe’ testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee — on the FBI probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections and possible ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin — on June 8 is widely publicized and covered by the mainstream media.
The mainstream media also covered his claims that Trump ordered him to drop an investigation into the former national security adviser Gen Michael Flynn’s links to Russia, and let him go. However, Comey didn’t and consequently got fired by Trump on May 9.
But what no mainstream media is reporting is the fact Trump’s pick to replace Comey — Christopher Wray, who served as an assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2005 at the Justice Department under former president George W. Bush and represented New Jersey governor Chris Christie in the Bridgegate scandal — has Russian ties of his own.
Wray, who Trump calls “an impeccably qualified individual who will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity,” is a litigation partner in King & Spalding. The law firm represents Rosneft and Gazprom, two of Russia’s largest state-controlled oil companies.
Though there is no indication [so far] that Wray — a Yale Law School graduate who oversaw the Enron Task Force touted as the “largest and most complex white-collar investigation” in the FBI’s history — has directly handled any of the Rosneft or Gazprom legal matters, he will definitely have an ethical and legal conflict of interest as the FBI chief investigating Russia’s interference in the U.S presidential elections.
The now infamous 35-page dossier prepared by former British MI6 agent Christopher Steele claims Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, offered Donald Trump a 19% stake in the company in exchange for lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia. The offer was made through Trump’s campaign manager, Carter Page, when he visited Moscow in July 2016.
Rosneft had a $500 billion oil drilling joint-venture with Exxon in 2012, when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was Exxon’s CEO. But after Barack Obama imposed the sanctions that crippled Russia’s ability to do business with U.S. companies, the deal was nixed in 2014. If Trump lifts the sanctions, Exxon could renew its agreement with Rosneft, and King & Spalding could end up in the middle of the contract negotiations.
Gazprom was a partner in RosUkrEnergo AG, which is controlled by Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash. For the uninitiated, Firtash is a member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle. He is under federal indictment in Chicago for racketeering charges, and has had financial dealings with former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.
USA Today reports:
“If Wray was confirmed as the FBI director, and then had to recuse himself with regard to some or all of the Russia-related aspects of the critical investigation being conducted by the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller, the potential damage to the investigation could be significant. If Wray refused to recuse himself from the Russia-Trump investigation — or at least acknowledge the potential conflict issue, a serious cloud could be cast over the FBI’s level of commitment to the investigation.
Similarly, the nomination of Wray as FBI director raises serious questions as to whether Wray — given his law firm’s affiliation with Rosneft and Gazprom — would be perceived as an attempt by Trump to install a “Russia-friendly” director at the helm of the FBI.”
Furthermore, Donald Trump has King & Spalding ties of his own. Gilbert Kaplan, a partner at the firm, is Trump’s nominee to become Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade in the Department of Commerce. Bobby Burchfield, another partner at the firm, is Ethics Adviser to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, which holds the president’s business assets. Dan Coats, currently serving as the 5th Director of National Intelligence, served as co-chairman of King & Spalding.
Wray has been a longtime Republican donor. He has backed GOP presidential nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012, respectively. He has also backed GOP lawmakers, including Tom Price, who is currently serving as the 23rd Secretary of Health and Human Services.