Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions apparently want to purge the FBI and Justice Department, starting with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
Trump has been waging war on the Justice Department and FBI for months, seemingly, to undermine the Russia investigation.
The purge began early last year when Trump fired James Comey for refusing to halt an investigation into Michael Flynn, who struck a plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller for lying to the Bureau about his contacts with Russians.
The firing eventually led to the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller to head up the Russian investigation. After Comey’s ouster, Trump appointed Christopher Wray to head up the FBI, supposedly because Wray seemed more inclined to allow the administration to hold more control over the agency.
Deputy Director Andrew McCabe remained in place through the change of leadership, despite revelations that Comey had confided in him following his one-on-one meetings with the president. McCabe, however, has experienced constant pressure from the Attorney General who continues to channel the wishes of the president.
In a stunning show of defiance, FBI Director Wray just threatened to resign if the administration removes McCabe from his post.
Sessions told White House Counsel Don McGahn about how upset Wray was about the pressure on him to fire McCabe, and McGahn told Sessions this issue wasn’t worth losing the FBI Director over, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Losing another FBI Director as a result of unethical pressure to do Trump’s bidding would not have looked good.
Ironically, McCabe is expected to retire in early 2018 as soon as he can collect his full retirement benefits from the agency. While McCabe has made no such announcement, there has been chatter to that effect. Rather than throw temper tantrums, Trump may have been better served to let McCabe’s tenure run its course.
The report of Trump’s pressure on Wray drew comment from White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah. Shah, of course, puts some heavy spin on his defense of the situation.
As we’ve said, the president has enormous respect for the thousands of rank and file FBI agents who make up the world’s most professional and talented law enforcement agency,” Shah said. “He believes politically-motivated senior leaders including former Director Comey and others he empowered have tainted the agency’s reputation for unbiased pursuit of justice. The president appointed Chris Wray because he is a man of true character and integrity and the right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership.
If Trump thought he could bully Wray into doing what he wants, he was wrong, because it turns out Wray has integrity.
And that’s why James Comey praised Wray for standing his ground in a Twitter post shortly after the story broke.
Good to read reports of people standing up for what they believe in. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” — MLK
— James Comey (@Comey) January 23, 2018
Comey had previously criticized the FBI Director of bowing to pressure from Trump last year when Wray was forced to reassign longtime general counsel James Baker.
Wray, apparently, is getting sick of putting up with Trump’s meddling.
Christopher Wray needs to resist bowing down to Trump. The FBI should be an independent law enforcement agency that does not bend to the will of the president. Wray understands that would be a terrible idea that would indeed harm the reputation of the Bureau and all the agents who work there.
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