Having set himself up for charges of obstruction of justice by firing his initial FBI director James Comey, President Trump seems to now have been thwarted in his plans to continue to stack the agency with his hand-picked allies.
According to a new report on Axios, Christopher Wray, the man who Trump named to replace Comey as FBI Director, has threatened to resign rather than bow to pressure from Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, one of Comey’s close allies in the bureau.
McCabe was the subject of one of Trump’s more accusatory tweets last year when the President sent out this missive:
How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2017
With Trump already soured on his Attorney General after he recused himself from the Russia investigation, Sessions has been doing all he can to get back in the President’s good graces, calling for FBI Director Wray to make a “fresh start” with his team at the bureau. His pressure on Wray to fire McCabe after the President expressed his displeasure with the Deputy Director so upset Wray that he threatened to resign rather than acquiesce to the request.
Given the controversy that erupted after Comey’s firing, the loss of a second FBI director in less than a year would look particularly bad for Trump. Sessions was so concerned about the situation according to Axios that he sought the advice of White House Counsel Don McGahn who told him that it was not worth losing Wray over the issue.
With the President and his Republican enablers still on the offensive against the FBI and trying to reopen the endless investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email as a way to take attention away from the ever-expanding probe into Republican ties to Russian interference into the electoral process, the integrity and impartiality of the FBI Director is a crucial test for our democracy.
Right now the only thing standing in the way of Trump taking complete control of the FBI investigations is the threat of the horrible optics that further personnel changes at the bureau would bring. Let’s hope that Trump doesn’t get so desperate that he throws appearances to the wind and forces the changes he wants anyway.