News of Christopher Wray's nomination to be the next FBI director seemed destined to be buried. And it was.
President Trump announced his selection of Wray on Twitter on Wednesday morning, roughly two hours before intelligence chiefs were scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and one day before a blockbuster session featuring former FBI director James B. Comey.
Trump, who fired Comey on May 9, initially expressed a sense of urgency to fill the post. The president said May 13 that he “could make a fast decision,” possibly before the start of a foreign trip just six days later. Instead, the selection process dragged out, as several candidates withdrew from consideration.
Perhaps because of the odd timing of the Wray announcement — and an apparent lack of coordination, too — all of Washington was caught off-guard by the news. The Washington Post's Abby Phillip noted that the White House was slow to issue the customary statement hailing the president's nominee.
Three more hours passed before the White House finally got around to touting Wray as an “impeccably qualified individual” and a “fierce guardian of the law,” in a statement.
Speaker of the House Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis) also didn't get a heads up and wasn't prepared to remark on Wray at his weekly press briefing. “I don't know the guy,” Ryan said.
Trump also failed to notify top Democrats, an omission that seems unlikely to foster good will.
Many of Trump's own staffers did not know about the Wray selection, either.
On the tarmac in Cincinnati where he delivered a speech Wednesday afternoon, Trump said that Wray is “going to be great” in response to a shouted question from a reporter.
But Trump did not mention Wray even once during his address. His agenda called for a focus on infrastructure projects (it's “infrastructure week,” remember?), yet he managed to slip in shots at “obstructionist” Democrats and praise for Saudi Arabia.
The unveiling of Wray calls to mind the similarly disorganized rollout of Trump's original travel ban in January. Then, too, congressional leaders were kept in the dark about the president's plan, and the White House lacked a coherent messaging strategy.
Months later, Trump seems not to have learned his lesson.