WASHINGTON — Only once had a U.S. senator ever voted against a nominee for FBI director — until today.
Five Democrats cast their ballots Tuesday afternoon opposing the confirmation of Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the country’s top investigative agency.
The vote was 92-5. The final list of negative votes included Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Ed Markey, Jeff Merkley, Elizabeth Warren and Ron Wyden. Historically, lawmakers have aimed for broad bipartisan support on pivotal, nonpartisan nominees, but data shows lawmakers and their constituents are more divided than they’ve been in decades.
The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended Wray unanimously in July. Wray formerly worked in the Department of Justice under former President George W. Bush.
James Comey, who was confirmed in 2013, received the only other opposing vote in history — Sen. Rand Paul voted no after raising questions about how the agency was using surveillance drones on American soil.
Trump fired Comey in May amid the agency’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and possible coordination with Trump campaign associates.
Senate confirmation for FBI director was first required beginning in 1968, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Two nominees, William Webster in 1978 and Louis Freeh in 1993, were confirmed without a roll call vote. Other nominees — Clarence Kelley, William Sessions and Robert Mueller — were confirmed by 96-0, 90-0, 98-0 margins, respectively. (Mueller’s term was renewed for two years in 2011 by a vote of 100-0).
Before Senate confirmation was required, J. Edgar Hoover held the job for nearly 48 years, including during the period when the then-Bureau of Investigation became the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1935.