With new warnings of attempts of election interference by Russia and Iran, Trump is weighing options to fire heads of DOJ and FBI
The President is weighing options to fire FBI Director Wray and AG Barr
President Trump and his advisers have repeatedly discussed whether to fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray after Election Day — a scenario that also could imperil the tenure of Attorney General William P. Barr as the president grows increasingly frustrated that federal law enforcement has not delivered his campaign the kind of last-minute boost that the FBI provided in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter.
The conversations among the president and senior aides stem in part from their disappointment that Wray in particular but Barr as well have not done what Trump had hoped — indicate that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, or other Biden associates are under investigation, these people say. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose internal discussions.
In the campaign’s closing weeks, the president has intensified public calls for jailing his challenger, much as he did for Hillary Clinton, his opponent in 2016. Trump has called Biden a “criminal” without articulating what laws he believes the former vice president has broken.
People familiar with the discussions say that Trump wants official action similar to the announcement made 11 days before the last presidential election by then-FBI Director James B. Comey, who informed Congress he had reopened an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state after potential new evidence had been discovered.
Trump emphasized the point in an interview Tuesday with Fox News, saying “we’ve got to get the attorney general to act” and that Barr should do so “fast.” The president was alluding to information about Hunter Biden recently touted by Trump’s private lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, and based on the contents of a laptop computer purportedly belonging to the former vice president’s son.
“This is major corruption,” Trump added, “and this has to be known about before the election.”
An FBI spokesman declined to comment.
FBI: Russia and Iran made ‘desperate attempts’ to interfere with election
Russia and Iran have obtained U.S. voting registration information, the government’s national intelligence director said at a rare news conference Wednesday night. John Ratcliffe, the intelligence director, and FBI Director Chris Wray say the U.S. will impose costs on any foreign countries interfering in the 2020 U.S. election.
Democratic voters in at least four battleground states including Florida and Pennsylvania received threatening emails, falsely purporting to be from the far-right group Proud Boys, that warned “we will come after you” if the recipients didn’t vote for President Donald Trump.
The voter-intimidation operation apparently used email addresses obtained from state voter registration lists, which include party affiliation and home addresses and can include email addresses and phone numbers. Those addresses were then used in an apparently widespread targeted spamming operation. The senders claimed they would know which candidate the recipient was voting for in the Nov. 3 election, for which early voting is ongoing.
Federal officials have long warned about the possibility of this type of operation, as such registration lists are not difficult to obtain.
“These emails are meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections,” Christopher Krebs, the top election security official at the Department of Homeland Security, tweeted Tuesday night after reports of the emails first surfaced.
He urged voters not to fall for “sensational and unverified claims,” reminding them that ballot secrecy is guaranteed by law in all states. “The last line of defense in election security is you – the American voter.”
A spokesperson at FBI headquarters did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Daniel Tokaji, dean of the University of Wisconsin Law School and an expert on voting rights, said he’s afraid we could see more of the type of voter suppression that the intimidation emails attempt — trying to scare people into not voting at all.
Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor, said the use of voter roll information could make the emails especially frightening.
“It puts so much unfair stress and responsibility on the voters and nobody should have to fear for their safety when deciding who to vote for — but that’s exactly the point of voter suppression.”
Includes reporting from the AP