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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.