Political News

Trump's tweet tapping FBI chief catches Washington off-guard

Posted June 7

President Donald Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to break the news about his pick for FBI director.

"Details to follow," he wrote at the end of his 128-character announcement of a major appointment.

But for hours, the details didn't follow, with the White House breaking from the thorough communications roll out that would typically accompany the announcement of a major personnel pick.

It wasn't until five hours after Trump's tweet that the White House finally issued a statement announcing Trump's intent to nominate Christopher Wray to serve as FBI director.

Trump's Twitter announcement Wednesday morning appeared to have caught most of Washington -- if not most of the White House -- by surprise.

The chairman and top Democrat of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will need to approve Wray's nomination, didn't get the customary heads up from the White House.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, both learned of Trump's new pick for FBI director just like everyone else -- on Twitter.

Five hours after Trump's announcement, Grassley issued a statement saying, "I'm grateful for the President's thorough consultation throughout this process. The committee will begin consideration of his nomination once we receive it and the related materials, which may take a couple weeks."

As of early Wednesday afternoon, the White House had yet to release any information about Wray other than to confirm the identity of the FBI director.

As reporters pressed the White House for more information, White House officials returned empty handed.

"Nothing planned right now," one White House official said when asked when more details about the pick would be released.

"I don't know -- I'll keep you posted," said another White House official.

Nearly two hours after Trump's tweet, the Justice Department sent Republican surrogates a one-sheet biography about the new FBI director pick.

And then, more silence, until finally the White House issued a press release five hours after Trump's tweet.

But rather than trumpeting the new pick for FBI director, the President and the White House returned to the communications strategy that White House officials had planned to implement this week: focusing on the Trump's plans to revamp the country's infrastructure.

The White House announced Wednesday morning that the President would be "presenting his vision for rebuilding America's infrastructure" during a speech in Ohio later in the day and trumpeted the $200 billion included in his budget proposal to rebuild the nation's infrastructure.

As he strolled across the South Lawn late Wednesday morning to board Marine One en route to Ohio, Trump declined to answer questions about his pick for FBI director.

The announcement stood in stark contrast to President Barack Obama's announcement of James Comey to serve as FBI director in June 2013, when he stepped into the Rose Garden with Comey and the departing FBI Director Robert Mueller to explain his decision to nominate Comey and read out his credentials. For the next 10 minutes, the three men laid out the FBI's next chapter.

Trump is not expected to appear with Wray on Wednesday and left the work of judging his soon-to-be nominee to forces outside of his control.

On Twitter, he only offered that Wray is "a man of impeccable credentials."

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