Attorney General Jeff Sessions — at the public urging of President Donald Trump — has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, but Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed, according to three sources with direct knowledge.
– Jonathan Swan [Axios]
THE FIRING of FBI Director James Comey triggered President Trump‘s problems. The latest news from Jonathan Swan adds another event to the obstruction of justice column.
For some reason, Mr. Trump believes the FBI and Justice Department are his personal enforcement team.
Trump’s fury over being denied this power has not subsided since Mr. Comey was forced out of the FBI.
The President wants Comey’s former allies gone. He pushed Attorney General Jeff Sessions hard to force FBI Director Wray to fire Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose biggest crime to date is being married to an activist Democrat.
Wray was willing to walk if Sessions, and Trump, continued. We need more people like him.
So yes, it is in Wray’s interest to stand up to the President and Attorney General in this context. But third, we should nonetheless recognize the fortitude and grit he showed in telling the Attorney General—and through him the President of the United States—to lay off. Some questions were raised when Wray reassigned FBI General Counsel James Baker; it was unclear whether Wray caved to pressure from Trump (who attacked Baker) and Sessions, or simply wanted his own hand-picked General Counsel, as is the norm. Wray’s standing up for McCabe puts that episode in a better light. And it was a difficult thing to do, even though Wray has principle entirely on his side. It is always hard to stand up to your immediate bosses. It is far harder when your immediate bosses happen to be the President and Attorney General, the men who in effect hired you—just a few months ago—and supervise you. But Wray apparently did just this, and he is still the FBI Director. As McGahn’s comment to Sessions acknowledges, this episode reveals that Trump has much more to lose from Wray resigning than does Wray—at least for now. And it underscores one more time, again for now, the FBI’s independence in the face of truly unprecedented attacks on its integrity. – By Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes [Lawfare]
UPDATE: Michael Schmidt broke story that Attorney General Sessions has been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators. That puts the focus inside the cabinet on the highest official in the Administration to date.
SCOOP: Attorney general Jeff Sessions was interviewed by Mueller's investigators last week as part of investigation into obstruction and Russian meddling. 1st member of cabinet known to have been interviewed by Mueller. https://t.co/LeUpY8wkwA
— Michael S. Schmidt (@nytmike) January 23, 2018