President Donald Trump has announced that Christopher Wray is his pick for director of the FBI.
Wray is the former assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, and in 2015, while he was working at the private law firm King & Spalding, he wrote a letter supporting Sally Yates.
This letter came as Sally Yates was nominated to become deputy attorney general by President Barack Obama; it was written to the Senate Judiciary Committee and signed by 16 members of the firm, including Christopher Wray.
King & Spalding’s letter notes that the firm’s partners have had the opportunity to work with Sally Yates and that they strongly recommend her for the position of deputy attorney general.
“A number of us knew Sally as an associate at the firm, and, even as a young lawyer, she exemplified extraordinary legal skill and judgment,” the letter reads. “Those attributes, combined with her strong work ethic and engaging personality, earned Sally a reputation within the firm as a capable lawyer and one with whom people wanted to work. It was no surprise to those of us who worked with her that she was recruited by the United States Attorney’s Office and went on to have a remarkable career in public service.”
The letter goes on to say that Sally Yates’ “record of service is extraordinary” and that she is “a talented advocate.”
“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 reads.
In 2017, Sally Yates said she would not instruct the Department of Justice to defend Donald Trump’s travel ban, and Trump subsequently fired Yates, saying that Yates betrayed the department.
“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. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel,” Donald Trump said in a statement. “Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.”
Here is the full letter that Christopher Wray signed advocating for Sally Yates:
Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Leahy:
We are partners in King & Spalding LLP, and have had the privilege of working closely with Sally Yates either when she practiced at our firm or during her 25 years of service in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia. We strongly support her nomination to serve as Deputy Attorney General.
Sally began her law career with King & Spalding and worked at the firm for several years before joining the United States Attorney’s Office. A number of us knew Sally as an associate at the firm, and, even as a young lawyer, she exemplified extraordinary legal skill and judgment. Those attributes, combined with her strong work ethic and engaging personality, earned Sally a reputation within the firm as a capable lawyer and one with whom people wanted to work. It was no surprise to those of us who worked with her that she was recruited by the United States Attorney’s Office and went on to have a remarkable career in public service.
In fact, Sally’s record of service is extraordinary. Over the last two and a half decades, she has been a powerful force for justice and a strong advocate for the metro Atlanta community. Perhaps best known for her skilled work as a prosecutor of public corruption cases, Sally led the successful prosecutions of a former Atlanta Mayor, a former State School Superintendent, and numerous other corrupt local officials and contractors. In addition, Sally led the team that prosecuted the Atlanta Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph. Atlanta is a far better and safer city today thanks in part to Sally’s extraordinary efforts.
In addition, Sally is a talented advocate. She was elected to membership in the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, a professional organization that recognizes the best of the country’s trial lawyers. Those same advocacy skills have made her a powerful voice in the community, who has been willing to address directly and publicly difficult issues like human trafficking and the use of force by law enforcement officers. Sally has done an outstanding job of earning the respect and suppmi 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.
Several of us served with Sally in the United States Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, and three of us also formerly served in the Deputy Attorney General’s Office during the George W. Bush Administration. We understand the need for federal prosecutors to be fearless and nonpartisan advocates of the rule of law. We also understand the incredible demands placed on the Deputy Attorney General and the qualities and skills that are required to be successful in this important leadership position. In particular, the Deputy Attorney General must provide strong, dedicated and experienced leadership; be attuned to the myriad of challenges that face the U.S. Attorneys’ offices nationwide; and be able to effectively establish and communicate the Justice Department’s priorities. Sally brings a wealth of practical experience as well as the highest standards of excellence and integrity to this position.
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.