After reporting Sunday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has consistently urged FBI Director Christopher Wray to make a “fresh start” by cleaning house and firing his core team, Axios now has sources saying that the pressure has led Wray to threaten his resignation.
Most egregious, Axios reports, is Sessions’ insistence that Wray fire his Deputy Director, Andrew McCabe—the man who the White House tapped to lead the FBI when President Donald Trump fired James Comey last May, and who has been the subject of intense public ire at the hands of the president. Wray reportedly told Sessions he would resign should McCabe be forcefully removed from the bureau.
In a rambling statement that does not explicitly deny any of these claims, White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told Axios (emphasis mine):
“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. 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.”
Another source “familiar with the situation” told Axios that White House Counsel Don McGahn has privately urged Sessions to back down, arguing that losing McCabe isn’t worth losing Wray. High-ranking federal job decisions: just like picking teams in an elementary game of kickball.