What to expect at Wray's Senate confirmation hearing

The Utah Republican also used his time in Wray's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to get his support on several of his own issues, including encryption, child protection and rapid DNA testing.

The emails showed the Republican president's son agreeing previous year to meet a woman he was told was a Russian government lawyer who might have damaging information about Democratic White House rival Hillary Clinton as part of Moscow's official support for his father. But Wray said, "Any threats or effort to interfere with our election from any nation-state or any non-state actor is the kind of thing the Federal Bureau of Investigation would want to know".

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has said he hopes to have Wray confirmed by the Senate's August recess.

Trump's firing of Comey because of "this Russian Federation thing" spooked members of Congress.

He also appeared to distance himself from the United States president's characterisation of the Robert Mueller investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign team and Russian Federation in the 2016 presidential election as a "witch hunt".

Last month, Mr Comey told a congressional hearing that Mr Trump had requested a pledge of loyalty to him, which Mr Comey said he had refused to give.

Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and a current White House adviser and Paul Manafort, Trump's then-campaign chair, also attended the meeting.

Wray noted he hadn't been approached, adding that his loyalty is to the Constitution and that he "sure as heck didn't offer" a loyalty pledge.

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That's a direct rebuke of President Trump's repeated claims - made as recently as Wednesday morning - that the investigation into whether his team colluded with Russian Federation is a "witch hunt", even in the wake of the release of emails showing his own son set up a meeting with a Kremlin-tied attorney offering information about Hillary Clinton during the campaign. "I would be pleased to do anything I could to support him [in his investigation]". Senator Tim Kaine, Ms Clinton's former running mate, went as far as to say Mr Trump Jr may have committed treason. The administration initially suggested that Trump fired Comey because of a recommendation by Deputy Atty. Trump allies have said Mueller's closeness to Comey shows he can't lead an unbiased probe.

Wray said he, too, was willing to resign along with Comey and other Justice Department officials - not because he knew the substance of the dispute but because of the quality of the people who were prepared to leave.

Trump shared highly classified information with Russians; Wray says it'd be extremely unsafe to share classified information that could put USA sources overseas at risk.

Pressed on how he would have handled the situation, he said he couldn't imagine holding a news conference about someone who had not been charged, noting Justice Department policies against doing so.

Christopher Wray, now a private practice lawyer, worked under George W Bush's administration as assistant attorney general in the USA department of justice's criminal division between 2003 and 2005.

Both Democrats and Republicans want assurance of his ability to remain independent from the Oval Office.

Mr Trump Jr recently published a string of emails between himself and a Russian intermediary, after The New York Times revealed the existence of their June 2016 meeting.

  • Michelle Webb