With only a few months into his tenure as FBI Director, Christopher Wray is now at a crossroad due to the pending release of a classified GOP memo that may reveal alleged surveillance abuses by the FBI and Department of Justice.
There is reportedly concern in the White House that Wray could quit if the memo is released, as his objections would be disregarded, sources told CNN Thursday.
Wray is “raising hell,” according to one CNN source but has not actually threatened to resign.
While President Trump has indicated he would authorize the release of the controversial four-page document penned by House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, Democrats, as well as FBI and DOJ officials, have fallen over themselves to prevent it.
According to CNN:
One person briefed on the matter said the White House believes that redactions could cure the problem, given the White House plan is to approve the release of the memo and leave it up to Nunes’ committee to officially release the document. But it is not clear redactions will be enough to satisfy concerns at the FBI, according to other officials, because their concerns are that substantial omissions make the document inaccurate, which is something redactions won’t address.
“I think Chris Wray’s motto is speak softly but carry a big stick,” a source inside the FBI said, according to CNN. “One-point Chris Wray, zero points Devin Nunes.”
But some feel that Wray, who was picked by Trump to lead the FBI after he fired FBI Director James Comey last May, is not going anywhere.
“He’ll save his fire,” a former Justice Department colleague said, according to Politico. “He’ll tough this one out. I think he’d understand where we’re going is a dangerous direction. I think he has great fidelity to the DOJ in general and the FBI in particular, and he will understand his leadership is needed.”
“I just don’t think it’s the kind of matter about which one resigns over,” another DOJ colleague said.
According to Politico:
Many Wray supporters said they were hoping the White House would offer some concession that would allow the new director to save face and explain to his personnel that he managed to temper the impact of the memo even if he failed to block its disclosure.
However, the White House’s signal on Thursday night that redactions were unlikely seemed to dampen the chances of that kind of compromise.
It also was unclear how deleting information from the document would address the rationale the FBI gave for the “grave concerns” warning issued on Wednesday: that the memo is inaccurate because of “material omissions of fact.”
Comey tweeted his praise of the bureau for going public with its objections to the memo’s release.
All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.
— James Comey (@Comey) February 1, 2018
FBI Assistant Director Ron Hosko admitted he would be “a little bit surprised and … a good bit disappointed” if Wray quit because of the memo release.
“Somebody needs to lead the organization through crisis,” Hosko said, according to Politico. “Do you want to be the guy who quit in crisis in these circumstances?”
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