White House counsel’s office advised Trump against firing FBI director: report
The White House counsel’s office has advised President Trump against firing FBI Director Christopher Wray, warning of potential legal consequences for the move, NBC News reported.
Administration lawyers reportedly told the president the move would make explicit that he expected the personal loyalty of anyone appointed to the position, adding that it could create a ripple effect similar to the 2017 dismissal of former FBI Director James Comey, which led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone and other White House attorneys have also told the president the firing would likely be viewed as retaliation for Wray’s failure to announce investigations the president has called for into his political enemies, according to NBC News.
The report comes after Attorney General William Barr resigned Monday, saying he would depart his position next week. Trump expressed his frustration with the attorney general for weeks over both his pushback on the president’s evidence-free claims of widespread voter fraud and his decision not to make public a federal probe into President-elect Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden before the election.
A senior administration official told NBC that, despite the advice, it remains a possibility that the president will fire Wray or other officials in the final weeks of his presidency.
“I wouldn’t take anything off the table in coming weeks,” the official said, adding that “some more fairly significant terminations in the national security or intelligence community” were likely between now and January.
The official said Trump has also considered dismissing acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, holding him responsible for former cybersecurity chief Christopher Krebs declaring the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” Trump fired Krebs soon after the remarks.
CIA Director Gina Haspel, meanwhile, began removing personal items from her office after Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper in November, according to NBC.
“If the president doesn’t have confidence in someone he will let you know,” White House spokesman Judd Deere told NBC. “We have no personnel announcements at this time.”
The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.