FBI Director Christopher Wray has been resisting pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to replace the bureau’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, a frequent target of criticism from President Trump, the Washington Post reports. The tension over McCabe and other high-level FBI officials who served during James Comey’s tenure has reached the White House, where counsel Donald McGahn has sought to mediate the issue. As Sessions tried to push Wray to make personnel changes, Wray conveyed his frustration to the attorney general. Sessions then discussed the matter with McGahn, who advised him to ease off, which he did.
In December, after the Post reported that McCabe planned to retire in March when he becomes eligible for his full pension benefits, Trump tweeted about his criticisms of McCabe, a target of his since the 2016 presidential campaign. Axios reported that Wray had threatened to resign if Sessions did not stop pressuring him to fire McCabe. Firing McCabe could be problematic because he has civil service protections as a government employee. Such a move, in the aftermath of public criticism from the president and others, could prompt litigation. A White House statement said that Trump “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. 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.”