Christopher Wray. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Numerous figures close to the president are both privately and publicly urging him to fire FBI director Christopher Wray in the wake of recent revelations about the FBI's handling of its investigation of Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Driving the news:: Former White House official Sebastian Gorka, Trump confidant and conservative commentator Dan Bongino, and Joseph diGenova, an attorney with close ties to the White House, have all publicly gone after Wray in recent days.
What they're saying: A conversation between Gorka and Bongino on Gorka's radio show "America First" captures the types of messages Trump is regularly hearing. "People are policy," Bongino said. "The only way to reform the system is to get rid of these people and start over. ... Why does Christopher Wray still have a job?
- "I asked the president directly about it," Bongino added. "I cannot for the life of me understand how the current director of the FBI is still in his position."
- Gorka agreed with Bongino and on Monday tweeted Bongino's handle with the quote, "FBI Director Wray is a Swamp Rat."
- Flynn's lawyer Sidney Powell, who Trump often praises, retweeted a tweet on Monday saying: "FIRE WRAY- Americans have lost confidence in the FBI Agency. He thinks it is acceptable to cover up the criminal behavior of former FBI Officials."
- Powell's retweet linked to a story on the conservative website RedState with the headline: "It's Time to Fire Christopher Wray…Now."
- And conservative attorney diGenova, who was under consideration to represent Trump in the Russia probe and remains close to people in Trump's inner circle, said in a Thursday interview with conservative talk-show host Howie Carr: "The president, he can't wait, he has to fire Chris Wray."
Behind the scenes: As I reported on Sunday, Trump is not happy with Wray and would love to replace him, according to three sources who've discussed the matter with the president.
- But Trump has been deferring to Attorney General Bill Barr and is unlikely to remove Wray before the election, these sources said.
Between the lines: Trump's dissatisfaction with Wray — whom he nominated for the post in 2017 after firing former FBI director Jim Comey — is nothing new. A source who has discussed the FBI director repeatedly with the president said Trump "has never felt like Wray was his guy" and does not trust him to "change the culture" of the FBI.
- Trump was especially angered by what he views as Wray's reluctance to publicly criticize actions taken by Comey and by Wray's relatively muted reaction to the FBI's misconduct in seeking the surveillance of Trump campaign associate Carter Page.
- Figures close to Trump tell him that Wray cannot be trusted to root out what they view as "corruption" at the highest levels of the FBI.
The bottom line: Trump hasn't fired Wray, yet, because there's no obvious replacement and because some of his key advisers don't want to cause another firestorm six months before the election, according to senior administration officials.