News & Politics

Report: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wants McCabe Gone at FBI, but Director Wray Is Resisting

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to clean house at the FBI, but his efforts appear to have been resisted, Axios revealed Tuesday.

For many months, Sessions has been quietly urging FBI Director Christopher Wray to make “a fresh start” by replacing his top lieutenants, including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, administration sources say.

“The conversations about McCabe and the core team started shortly after Wray was confirmed,” a senior administration source told Axios reporter Jonathan Swan.

Another person Sessions wants to have axed from the team, according to the sources, is the FBI’s top lawyer, James A. Baker, who was “reassigned” in December. House Republicans say Baker communicated with Mother Jones reporter David Corn in the weeks leading up to the November 2016 election. Mother Jones was the first publication to report the existence of the salacious, unverified dossier alleging Trump’s connections with Russia.

Meanwhile, James Rybicki, chief of staff of former FBI Director James Comey and current FBI Director Christopher Wray, quit on Tuesday. 

Rybicki, who served in the same position under former FBI Director James Comey, had come under scrutiny from Republicans in recent months about his role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.


Wray said he has tapped attorney Zachary Harmon to replace Rybicki.

According to multiple reports, McCabe “is expected to retire after he becomes eligible for his pension [in] early [2018],” but no one knows for sure what his actual plans are.

President Trump and other Republicans have identified McCabe as one of the chief troublemakers in the FBI.

According to Axios, “Wray threatened to resign if McCabe was removed.”

Sessions told White House Counsel Don McGahn about how upset Wray was about the pressure on him to fire McCabe, and McGahn told Sessions this issue wasn’t worth losing the FBI Director over, according to a source familiar with the situation.

President Trump denied on Tuesday that FBI Director Christopher Wray threatened to resign — “he didn’t even a little bit,” he said — but Axios is standing by their report. “Trump was not involved in any of the conversations with Wray, and we never reported that he was,” wrote Swan.

The conversations were between Wray and Sessions, over several months. Trump applied public pressure and Sessions applied private pressure. When we gave the FBI and Justice Department full visibility of our story before publishing, neither agency took issue with our characterization of the Wray-Sessions conversations or of Wray’s threat to resign. Even now, nearly 24 hours after publishing, neither Justice nor the FBI has gone on the record to deny that fact.