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Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump is not happy with FBI director Christopher 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.

Behind the scenes: Trump's dissatisfaction with Wray — whom he nominated for the post in 2017 after firing 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.

What's new: Recent revelations in the case of Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, have heightened discontent with Wray in Trump's inner circle.

  • 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.
  • While interviewing Trump on his eponymous podcast on Friday, pro-Trump commentator Dan Bongino said he doesn't "have a lot of faith" in Wray and asked the president if he trusts Wray to "enact reforms to ensure innocent Americans are not targeted again."
  • Trump dodged the Wray part of the question and instead pivoted to praising Barr.

Between the lines: Trump hasn't ousted Wray for two main reasons, according to senior administration officials and outside advisers who've discussed Wray's future with Trump.

  • First, some of Trump's key advisers don't want to kick the hornet's nest so close to an election by firing a second FBI director.
  • And, second, there isn't an obvious replacement who'd both pass muster on Capitol Hill and be the sort of loyalist Trump wants to run the FBI.

Go deeper

Scoop: Inside Trump's debate prep

Trump and Christie. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Two weekends ago, President Trump met with a group of his closest aides in the conference room of his Bedminster golf club to discuss a subject that has been weighing heavily on his mind: the three scheduled debates with Joe Biden.

Behind the scenes: In the room with Trump were his son-in-law Jared Kushner, campaign manager Bill Stepien, senior adviser Jason Miller, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who role-played Hillary Clinton in Trump's 2016 debate prep sessions.

Scoop: Gina Haspel almost resigned over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel almost resigned in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelations stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.