By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Washington Post reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been pressuring FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to replace the bureau’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, who President Donald Trump has been increasingly critical of.
The Post’s report said that Wray resisted call from Sessions for major personnel changes at the bureau’s senior level.
White House counsel Donald McGahn reportedly has sought to mediate the issue between the two men. The Post’s anonymous sources claim that McGahn advised Sessions to back off Wray, which he did.
Trump has been critical of McCabe on Twitter since the Presidential campaign. The Washington Post has reported that McCabe plans to retire in March when he becomes eligible for his full pension benefits.
Much of the discussion between Wray and Sessions about housecleaning at the FBI also came in December, according to people familiar with the matter.
Axios reported earlier on Monday that Wray had threatened to resign if Sessions did not stop pressuring him to fire McCabe.
“The President has enormous respect for the thousands of rank-and-file F.B.I. agents who make up the world’s most professional and talented law enforcement agency,” White House spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement. “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 F.B.I. and give the rank and file confidence in their leadership.”
Wray became FBI director in August after Trump fired James Comey citing disappointment with how Comey handled investigations, including the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller reportedly is investigating whether Trump’s firing of Comey could constitute obstruction of justice.
The chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, Mark Meadows, and former Chair Jim Jordan has publicly called for Sessions to resign citing his decision to recuse himself from the Russian collusion investigation and his lack of control of the FBI.
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation, but it would appear he has no control at all of the premier law enforcement agency in the world,” Meadows and Jordan wrote. “It is time for Sessions to start managing in a spirit of transparency to bring all of this improper behavior to light and stop further violations.” “If Sessions can’t address this issue immediately, then we have one final question needing an answer: When is it time for a new attorney general? Sadly, it seems the answer is now.” “How many FBI agents and DOJ officials have illegally discussed aspects of an ongoing investigation with reporters? When will it stop?”
While Meadows called for Sessions to resign; Freedom Caucus members, Congressmen Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, and Gary Palmer, R-Hoover, have not yet joined Meadows in calling for Sessions to resign.
Trump insists that the allegations that there was collusion between his 2016 Presidential campaign, “Is a made up story.” “The only collusion has been between Hillary and the Russians and between the DNC and the Russians.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., opposed Sessions confirmation citing problems with Sessions views on civil rights and immigration. Now Schumer opposes replacing Sessions for fear that Trump will appoint a loyalist who will fire Mueller.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing ever should be allowed to interfere with the Mueller investigation,” Schumer said. “He should be allowed to pursue that wherever it leads.”
Sessions has reportedly asked the FBI to investigate the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s email server, Clinton’s handling of the Uranium One negotiations with Russia, and allegations that the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign may have colluded with Russian intelligence sources to produce the Trump dossier which led the Justice Department to start the Mueller investigation in the first place. The FBI is responsible for finding the truth in all of these high profile investigations, meanwhile the Bureau itself has come under increasing fire from conservatives for excessive leaks and having partisan loyalties to Democrats that may be influencing their efforts.
Sessions served as a U.S. Senator from Alabama for over 20 years before being appointed as attorney general by Trump in 2017.
Original reporting by the Washington Post’s Devlin Barrett and Philip Rucker, Breitbart News, and CNN’s David Wright contributed to this report.