Washington — President Joe Biden will retain Christopher Wray as FBI director, the White House said Thursday, in a show of confidence in Wray's ability to helm the bureau under a new administration.
Wray has led the FBI since 2017, when then-President Donald Trumpto succeed James Comey, whose firing by Mr. Trump led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
At a White House on Wednesday, press secretary Jen Psaki was noncommittal about whether Mr. Biden has confidence in Wray, saying she hadn't spoken to the president about the bureau's leadership. But in a tweet on Thursday, Psaki said Mr. Biden plans to keep Wray atop the sprawling investigative agency.
"I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing," Psaki wrote.
FBI directors are appointed to 10-year terms but can be removed by the president. Wray has six years left in his current term.
Wray found himself in Mr. Trump's crosshairs several times during the previous administration, most recently for telling lawmakers before the election that the FBI had no evidence of mass voter fraud, as Mr. Trump had repeatedly and falsely claimed. Mr. Trump said Wray had been "disappointing" as FBI director in an interview soon after.
The FBI is leading the law enforcement investigation into the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and has arrested dozens of alleged rioters across the country in the weeks since the assault. In a briefing on inauguration security last week, Wray said the spate of arrests "should serve as a very stern warning to anybody else who might be inclined to try to engage in that activity."
Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, hailed the move to keep Wray as FBI director, saying he "has served with great professionalism and integrity."
"I am glad to see that President Biden intends to keep Director Wray in his position, and restore the ten year terms for FBI Directors," Schiff said in a statement. "Such terms, which transcend administrations, were intended to insulate a director from the kind of improper personal or political considerations that led Donald Trump to fire former Director James Comey."