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FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions at Wray's installation ceremony last year. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has adamantly urged FBI Director Christopher Wray to make a "fresh start" with his core team, including replacing deputy director and Trump bête noire Andrew McCabe, according to a senior administration source.

According to this source, and two other sources briefed on the conversations, Sessions has been strongly urging Wray to do this for some time. Another person Sessions thought should be cleared from the core team: the FBI's top lawyer James A. Baker, who was "reassigned" in December.

"The conversations about McCabe and the core team started shortly after Wray was confirmed," said the senior administration source. "They intensified from there." The New York Times — and others — reported in December that McCabe "is expected to retire after he becomes eligible for his pension [in] early [2018]." But senior Justice officials are still not sure what McCabe plans to do.

An FBI spokesman declined to comment when presented with the facts in this story.

Trump and other Republicans have been hammering McCabe for months on Twitter.

  • On July 26, Trump tweeted: "Why didn't A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got...big dollars ($700,000) for his wife's political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!"
  • Ironically, the White House chose McCabe to be acting director after Trump fired Comey.

McCabe remains at the FBI.

Behind Sessions' conversations: The Justice Department is conducting an investigation into how the FBI under former director James Comey handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation in 2016. There are also ongoing leak investigations, per the same source.

  • But even without all of these investigations, Sessions believes "Wray should have a fresh start with his own team," according to the senior administration source.

For more great news and analysis in your inbox each day, be sure to sign up for Jonathan Swan's Sneak Peek and Axios' other newsletters.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest — triggering widespread power outages and flooding.

Why it matters: The strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood.

“You blew it”: GOP activist turns on corporations over vaccine mandates

The chairman of the American Conservative Union said on "Axios on HBO" he accepts "Joe Biden is my president, and I want him to succeed," but predicted Republicans retake the House and Senate in 2022 — with greater than 50% odds Donald Trump runs in 2024.

The big picture: In a joint interview with his wife, Mercedes, Matt Schlapp also refused to share their vaccination status. And he told corporate America "you blew it" by embracing vaccine mandates and liberal social stances that have alienated GOP voters and politicians.

4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi expects “billionaire’s tax” to pay for Biden social spending

Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday she expects the chamber to pass the bipartisan infrastructure plan by week’s end, and alternatives to corporate tax hikes and a “billionaires tax” will be used to finance President Biden’s promised expansion to the social safety net.

Why it matters: Pelosi’s comments come as House and Senate leaders try to wrap up a deal. What will get cut — and how the remainder will be paid — are linchpins to a final agreement.