FBI Director nominee Christopher Wray once recommended Sally Yates to DOJ

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Story highlights

  • Wray praised Yates for her "extraordinary legal skill and judgment"
  • Yates and Wray were colleagues at the same Atlanta-based law firm

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's new nominee to lead the FBI, Christopher Wray, once recommended former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to the role Trump fired her from.

A 2015 letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee co-signed by Wray praises Yates for her "extraordinary legal skill and judgment."
"Sally has done an outstanding job of earning the respect and support of both the political and business communities, and she has consistently kept front of mind the fact that her first commitment is to the people she serves," the letter read.
    Wray was a former colleague of Yates' at King & Spalding LLP, based in Atlanta, where she began her legal career.
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    "All of us strongly believe Sally possesses the necessary qualities to make her an effective leader of the Justice Department, and we are honored to support her nomination to be the next deputy attorney general," the letter stated.
    Yates served as deputy attorney general from 2015 to 2017 during the Obama administration. She served as acting attorney general during the transition period and beginning of Trump's administration, while Trump's nominee for the role, then-Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, awaited confirmation.
    Yates was abruptly fired by Trump in late January for her refusal to implement the first iteration of Trump's ban on travelers from a number of Muslim-majority countries. The dramatic move came soon after CNN reported Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to make legal arguments defending Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees.
    "The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at the time.
    In May, Yates testified in front of a Senate judiciary subcommittee regarding the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia, particularly former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn's contact with Russia's Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.
    During her testimony, she said that, at the end of January, after reading the details of a Flynn interview with the FBI, she had called White House counsel Don McGahn and warned him that Flynn could easily become a blackmail target for Russians based on the answers he gave to the FBI. At the time, she said the White House dismissed the concerns as a trust issue rather than a legal one.
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    Trump announced his nomination of Wray as next the FBI director Wednesday morning, tweeting, "I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI. Details to follow."