FBI Director nominee removed reference to case involving Russian government from law firm bio

FBI Director nominee removed reference to case involving Russian government from law firm bio
Posted at 9:34 AM, Jun 20, 2017

Donald Trump's nominee to be the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, represented an American energy executive in 2006 who was being criminally investigated by the Russian government.

The detail, which was included on Wray's biography on the website of the law firm King and Spalding dating back to 2009, was removed in 2017, according to a KFile review of the Web Archive.

A copy of Wray's biography from the law firm King and Spalding archived in December 2016 noted that Wray had represented "an energy company president in a criminal investigation by Russian authorities." By June of this year, that information had been removed. The line appears to be the one of few bits of information ever removed from the page since 2009, with most of the changes since then consisting of minor word changes and additions.

The name of the client was not disclosed on Wray's biography. A spokesperson for King and Spalding declined to provide the name of client when asked, citing "the Rules of Professional Responsibility regarding client confidentiality." A DOJ spokesperson also would not provide further details.

King and Spalding said Wray made the change himself in January 2017 before he considered whether he might be nominated for any administration post.

"Chris made this change to his bio, along with other minor tweaks, in an attempt to make the material more current. At the time he made the adjustments -- January 12, 2017 -- he was not being considered for, and did not anticipate being nominated for, FBI Director, or any position in government," Micheline Tang, a spokeswoman for the firm said. "Moreover, the representation that was dropped from his online bio related to a matter where Chris, King & Spalding, and the client were adverse to the Russian Government. Mr. Wray worked on this matter in 2006. Other attorneys at the firm worked on the matter in 2006, 2007, and 2011."

"The executive is an American citizen and lives in the United States," she continued. "During the course of the dispute, the Russian government sought to exert leverage against this executive and the company by initiating a criminal investigation in Russia against him. Chris and the firm were engaged to handle the U.S. legal issues that arose from the situation."

Any work Wray did related to Russia is likely to be asked about at Senate confirmation hearings. King and Spalding has worked closely in the energy sector in Russia, according to the firm's website. The firm represented companies in deals with the Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft and Gazprom.

Wray handled the 2006 case after serving as head of the criminal division at the Justice Department from 2003 to 2005 in the George W. Bush Administration. Weeks after President Trump abruptly fired James Comey as FBI director last month amid the bureau's Russia investigation, he settled on Wray as his nominee following the withdrawal of several candidates. His nomination must still be approved by the Senate.