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Attorney General Sessions Delivers Remarks at the Installation of Christopher Wray as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation


Washington, DC
United States

Remarks as prepared for delivery


Thank you, Andrew for that introduction, and thank you for your 20 years of service to the FBI.


Thank you too Rev. Candler for your remarks.


And to the hundreds of public servants, Members of Congress, FBI employees, DOJ staff and alumni: thank you all for being here.  I am glad to be with you to celebrate the commencement of the service of the new Director of the FBI, Chris Wray.  He will start a new day for the organization that I have been known to call the greatest investigative organization in the history of the world.


This Bureau has indeed a long and distinguished history.  It has stood courageously, decade after decade, with discipline, skill, and courage for truth and for justice.  In my 15 years in the Department of Justice, I have seen your work.  I have known your agents and your people.  I have stood in court, as have so many Assistant U. S. Attorneys, side by side, with great agents in big cases – intense cases.  That’s when you get a full understanding of how the values of the FBI motto – fidelity, bravery, and integrity – shape the character of agents.  I have personally tried many big cases, five weeks, five weeks, seven weeks.  During those long days, I tried the cases mostly alone, without co-counsel.  It was the FBI agents and me against a team, often, of aggressive defense attorneys.  Every investigative move would be attacked and questioned.  Time after time, in the crucible of federal trials, the professionalism and integrity of our agents  was established before me.  That integrity, which engendered confidence in juries, was the foundation for the convictions obtained.  Thus, your reputation – the FBI’s reputation – is not a product of image or the media for me.  I have seen it proven in real time.


I remember well one 5 week trial involving the President of the School Board, when the case agent, young Shawn Wolf, was being cross-examined by a dramatic defense attorney.  He asked her arrogantly if she was a “Special Agent,” and she said “Yes sir”.  He asked if the other agents in the office were “Special Agents,” and she said “Yes sir”.  He asked if agents all over the country were “Special Agents,” and she said “Yes sir”.  At that point, he dramatically declared, “Then it’s not so special is it?”  She looked him dead in the eye and replied, “I think it is.”  So do I.   And so does Chris Wray.


Chris Wray has been there too.  He’s been with agents in important trials where he was an Assistant US Attorney in Atlanta.  He remains friends with many of those agents today.  Then, when his former boss, Larry Thompson, became Deputy Attorney General, he called him to Washington to serve as his Deputy.  Chris Wray was there on 9/11.  He later became Chief of the Criminal Division.  There was no National Security Division then.  He led both criminal and national security issues.  He was a key player in those intense days.  When I talked to him about those days and his time as a prosecutor, I came to know the depth of admiration he had for our agents, and the mission of the FBI.  He is brilliant, hard-working, and an American patriot.  He is committed to the rule of law.  He has had time in the Department of Justice and in the private sector.  As one of the nation’s most successful attorneys, I was impressed that he was, without hesitation, willing to answer the call to serve his country in this key role.  He knew it was a challenging role and he did not shrink.


Nothing is more important to me than insuring that the nation has a director of the FBI of the highest quality.  You can be sure of that.


After much analysis, I was pleased to recommend his name to President Trump, and thrilled that President Trump nominated him.  His fine record, reputation for integrity, and professionalism led to unanimous vote in the Judiciary Committee and a swift and an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 92 to 5 in the full Senate to confirm him.  That strong confirmation vote was a good day for America. 


Leading such a critical organization as the FBI, where violent crime, national security, and public corruption are key responsibilities and when technology presents new challenges every day requires intelligence, integrity, objectivity, and most of all, good judgement.  A director must know it is not about him, but about security, justice and law.


Director Wray meets that test in full.  His judgment and integrity will always lead him.  He has no hidden agendas.


This critically important investigative organization is getting a great leader, one that is right for the time.  He is warm, thoughtful, and collegial.  But never doubt that he is in charge.  He will demand the highest standards.  He will emphasize integrity, and model it.  He enhance training, and defend your important work resolutely.  I have seen him do so.  He loves the high ideals of the Department of Justice, and is truly honored to head the FBI.  You can feel it.


In the days and years to come, Chris, there will be many controversies.  It is the nature of the job.  But, I am sure the American people will see their confidence in Chris and his leadership and the FBI grow steadily.


Godspeed Mr. Director, and thank you for your willingness to serve the country you love.

Updated September 28, 2017