I want to say that this is an obvious bluff except that Wray surely understands that a bluff won’t work. There’s no earthly way, after weeks of hype in Fox News primetime and online conservative media, that Trump is going to decide at the eleventh hour not to #ReleaseTheMemo. He’s especially not going to do it under threat of Wray’s resignation. If he did, he’d be caving to the same “deep state” he and his allies have spent months treating as an enemy. If he gave in to Wray and shelved the Memo now, the right would see it as surrender. And the one thing Trump can’t abide is being seen as weak.
So the memo’s coming out. Is Wray going home? Big day tomorrow!
To make this extra fun, Wray’s deputy, David Bowdich, was also a Comey guy. If Wray resigns tomorrow, Trump’s likely to hate the next acting director too.
Wray has made clear he is frustrated that President Donald Trump picked him to lead the FBI after he fired FBI Director James Comey in May, yet his advice on the Nunes memo is being disregarded and cast as part of the purported partisan leadership of the FBI, according to a senior law enforcement official…
Another person familiar with discussions about the memo said Wray didn’t threaten to quit when he met with Kelly earlier this week and in numerous conversations since, but White House chief of staff John Kelly believes that is a real possibility and has been working on a way to avoid another departure from an already turbulent Trump administration…
“I think Chris Wray’s motto is speak softly but carry a big stick,” said one person inside the FBI. “One-point Chris Wray, zero points Devin Nunes.”
Yeah, I don’t know. How is it “one-point Chris Wray” if Wray’s not going to end up getting his way? Supposedly Kelly’s trying to find some mutually agreeable solution in which the memo is released but the FBI gets … some sort of concession. I don’t know what. Maybe this?
BREAKING: @FBI Director Christopher Wray and DOJ wants all names redacted from #FISAMemo putting pressure on White House and House Intelligence Committee, Government officials say … is releasing names a threat to national security?
— Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) February 1, 2018
The memo will accuse nefarious “deep state” operatives of a plot to undermine the president while, uh, not naming any of them? That’ll piss off both sides, denying the right the names of the villains while casting the entire FBI under a pall. The FBI could issue its own “memo” addressing the “material omissions” in Nunes’s memo, I suppose, but that might risk exposing sources and methods. If the FBI’s going to correct the record, it might as well just redact the original FISA application and ask POTUS to declassify that. But he probably wouldn’t, lest it undermine Nunes’s “witch hunt” narrative.
So Wray’s going to have to take the “L” on this tomorrow — or else quit, as some former FBI officials are nudging him to do:
“Given the climate and the recent activities, going as far back as Director Comey’s departure, Wray definitely must be prepared to resign,” said Erroll Southers, a retired FBI special agent now at the University of Southern California.
“I don’t think the director has to resign. He should be prepared to publicly discredit this cherry-picked, fake memo and expose Nunes,” added former FBI counterterrorism special agent Ali Soufan. Soufan cited the bad blood between Director Louis Freeh and President Bill Clinton in the 1990s as a sign that the FBI can continue investigating a president despite their relationship collapsing.
But if Trump “wants to fire Wray, let him fire Wray, like Comey,” Soufan continued. “And then people in Washington should be prepared for a Saturday Night Massacre. Many honorable men and women should be prepared to resign, to walk out over this.”
As I said yesterday, if Wray resigns he runs the risk of a less ethical person being nominated as his replacement. At this point, having kept Comey on at the start of his presidency before firing him and now facing an embarrassing resignation from Wray, Trump must be tired of listening to his advisors’ recommendations on whom to appoint at the DOJ. He feels burned by Sessions and Rosenstein over Russiagate and now he’s getting burned by pushback from his handpicked Comey replacement on the political heat shield from Mueller that Nunes is trying to provide him with. If Wray goes, the president will insist on a crony next time. The Senate can check him on that by refusing to confirm someone who’s unqualified but you never know who Republicans might rubber-stamp if they fear a Democratic takeover in November. Could Rudy Giuliani get 50 votes?
Wray’s not going to quit.
BREAKING: FBI Director Chris Wray has no intention of quitting if controversial House Intel memo is released despite his objections, @PeteWilliamsNBC reports
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) February 1, 2018
I wonder what this guy *thought* he was signing up for when he agreed to replace Comey. He was headed into a dicey situation, under suspicion from his new agency that he’d be a yes-man for a president who’d just fired an independent-minded FBI director. He’s tried to earn the Bureau’s trust but now he’s sailing into the same rough waters as Sessions, Rosenstein, and Comey did by defending the integrity of the Russiagate probe against the wishes of a president who’s frantic to discredit it. He’s going to be attacked publicly by Trump despite the fact that he had nothing to do with the Russiagate investigation and has little choice but to stand up for his deputies’ neutrality and professionalism. Maybe that’ll be Trump’s and Kelly’s concession to him — no Twitter attacks on him personally, scout’s honor. Which would be nice for Wray but won’t stop Trump from dumping all over the FBI once the Memo is out, as that’s more or less the point of releasing it. What does Wray do then?
If it’s Chris Wray v. Trump, the FBI Agents Association is backing the director. pic.twitter.com/p2xacHczcG
— Ryan J. Reilly (@ryanjreilly) February 1, 2018