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White House slams FBI chief over accurate voter-fraud comments

The more FBI Director Chris Wray tells truths the White House doesn't like, the more likely it becomes that Trump will fire him.
Image: House homeland security committee hearing
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray testifies before the House Homeland Security Committee during a hearing about 'worldwide threats to the homeland' on Capitol Hill on Sept. 17, 2020.Chip Somodevilla / Pool via Reuters

In sworn Senate testimony yesterday, FBI Director Chris Wray acknowledged threats to U.S. election security. But as the New York Times noted, Wray simply doesn't see systemic voter fraud as one of those threats.

The F.B.I. has not seen evidence of a "coordinated national voter fraud effort," its director, Christopher A. Wray, told lawmakers on Thursday, undercutting President Trump's efforts to stoke fears about mail-in ballots by claiming without evidence that they are an election threat. Any fraud effort would have to be widespread and well coordinated to change the election outcome, and carrying out that kind of fraud would be a "major challenge for an adversary," Mr. Wray said.

While this testimony was entirely in line with everything we know about election threats, the White House clearly was not pleased with Wray having told the truth. TPM noted this morning:

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows lashed out at FBI Director Christopher Wray's testimony to Congress in which the FBI leader rejected President Donald Trump's bogus conspiracy theory that mail-in voting can and will lead to election fraud that would rig the election against him.

"With all due respect to Director Wray, he has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there's any kind of voter fraud," Meadows told CBS News. He added that Wray may need to "get involved on the ground" with election investigations, at which point "he would change his testimony on Capitol Hill."

By any fair measure, Meadows' rebuke was foolish, but more important is the fact that it happened at all.

Last week, Wray, whom Donald Trump tapped to lead the FBI, contradicted the White House line with accurate congressional testimony on multiple issues, including Russian efforts to intervene on Trump's behalf in the 2020 elections.

A week ago today, the president was asked if he's considering replacing his FBI director. Trump said he and his team are "looking at a lot of different things," adding, in reference to Wray's sworn testimony, "I did not like his answers yesterday, and I'm not sure he liked them either. I'm sure that he probably would agree with me."

In other words, Trump expressed confidence that Wray agrees with Trump more than himself, despite the accurate things the FBI director said under oath.

That evening, the president held a campaign rally in Minnesota, where he complained about the bureau director even more.

What's more, as we've discussed, the president also recently suggested he had nothing to do with nominating his own FBI director. Asked if Wray should step down, Trump told Fox Business last month, "Let's see how Wray turns out. He's going to either turn out one way or the other."

The president has already fired one FBI director; no one should be surprised if he fires another.