The president’s spokeswoman sidestepped questions on Wednesday about a terse Oval Office meeting last summer in which President Donald Trump is said to have asked his acting FBI director who he voted for in the 2016 election.
Trump harangued Andrew McCabe, a career civil servant who oversaw the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret server, the Washington Post reported, ripping into the official for political donations the law enforcement officer’s wife received when she ran for office as a Democrat.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Wednesday that she couldn’t say whether the incident did or did not happen.
‘I wasn’t in the room. I don’t know what was discussed. I know he didn’t ask me,’ she deflected.
Sanders said she had discussed the president’s position on his current FBI director with Trump, though, and he has ‘100 percent confidence’ in Christopher Wray to make changes to the bureau if he needs to as she brought up ‘bad actors’ within the law enforcement division.
The president’s spokeswoman sidestepped questions on Wednesday about a terse Oval Office meeting last summer in which President Donald Trump is said to have asked his acting FBI director who he voted for in the 2016 election
President Trump is said to hvae harangued Andrew McCabe, a career civil servant who oversaw the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s secret server, ranting at the law enforcement official about his wife’s politics
Sanders appeared to be referring to a pair of FBI officials who are under fire from the right for their text messages alluding to plans to keep Trump in check before and after he was elected.
She said yesterday that their conduct was ‘possibly illegal’ as she turned the screws.
Asked Wednesday whether the president trusts the FBI, she said, ‘He certainly has 100 percent confidence in Director Wray, and that’s why he put him there,’ she said. ‘He has confidence in the rank-and-file members of the FBI.We’re not going to let a few bad actors tarnish the entire group.’
The president ignored a reporters’ question about the incident today as he attended a White House event for mayors.
Trump said last month that the FBI’s reputation ‘is in tatters’ after bad leadership that oversaw the ‘phony and dishonest’ Clinton email investigation.
He referenced Peter Strzok, an FBI agent on the former secretary of state’s case and one of the two officials caught texting about the future president, and McCabe, who he claimed had ‘Clinton money going to wife.’
Jill McCabe had taken north of $450,000 from a PAC operated by a friend of Bill and Hillary’s in her bid to win a Virginia state Senate speech. She was not the beneficiary of $700,000 in direct donations from the Clintons as Trump has claim.
The donation has been a sore point for Trump, though, and the Post says he confronted McCabe about it at a meeting last May.
A source who spoke to the Post said that McCabe found the exchange ‘disturbing.’ Other officials who were aware of the conversation were infuriated that Trump would interrogate a veteran FBI agent about his pick for president and the politics of his wife.
Trump’s attorney general subsequently attempted to have McCabe fired, a separate report said this week. The action was blocked, though, by the current FBI Director, Wray.
McCabe took charge of the FBI in May of 2017 after Trump fired the bureau’s previous director, James Comey.
The meeting described in the Post took place around the same time that the president was interviewing candidates to fill the open position. McCabe was said to be one of them.
On Wednesday Sanders said that Trump and McCabe ‘have had limited and pretty non-substantive conversations’ as she responded to a question about the meeting where Trump is said to have asked the acting FBI director how he voted.
‘I can’t get into the details of what was discussed. I wasn’t there. There are widespread reports of his retirement,’ she stated. ‘We’re making sure that we’re focused on the FBI and DOJ serving all Americans fairly and efficiently, and we’re going to move forward from there.’
McCabe has become a public target of Trump’s as the president fumed about the Justice Departments probe into allegations of Russian collusion.
Trump put has also put public pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with whom he’d also had a falling out with over his recusal from the Russia case, to fire McCabe.
Calling him ‘a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation,’ Trump claimed falsely that McCabe ‘got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives.’
‘Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife!’ a July 25 tweet claimed.
The assault on McCabe dipped back into the news this week when the website Axios revealed Sessions’ backstage push to have McCabe ousted.
Wray threatened to resign in response, the publication reported.
According to another report, Attorney General Jeff Sessions (pictured) pressured FBI Director Christopher Wray to fire McCabe
Wray (left) threatened to quit. The dispute wtih Trump is over donations McCabe’s wife took in 2015 from an ally of Hillary Clinton’s
McCabe served as acting director of the bureau after Trump fired Former FBI Director James Comey (pictured)
Tuesday in the Oval Office, Trump swatted down the claim that Wray nearly walked.
‘No, he didn’t at all,’ Trump said. ‘He did not even, a little bit. Nope. He’s going to do a good job,’ the president added.
McCabe has been a battering ram for Trump throughout his year in office – a time in which the Russia probe has constantly snagged headlines.
‘How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?’ Trump huffed on Twitter in December.
During her 2015 State Senate bid Jill McCabe took cash from the Virginia Democratic Party and from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s PAC.
McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, is a longtime political ally and friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Republicans remain critical of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, as many believe she should have been charged with a crime for mishandling classified information on her homebrew email server.
Last month, a White House official was quoted in the New York Times alleging that many senior leaders of the bureau were ‘politically motivated,’ touting Wray as the ‘right choice to clean up the misconduct at the highest levels of the FBI.’
But on Monday, Axios quoted three sources saying that Wray, who was sworn in as FBI chief in August, nearly quit over Sessions’ demands that he get rid of McCabe.
Sessions then told White House Counsel Don McGahn how upset Wray was, according to Axios, with McGahn telling Sessions in turn that it wasn’t worth losing another FBI director over McCabe’s employment.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said Monday that the president believes Wray ‘is a man of true character and integrity,’ though he did not back off from the president’s belief that there’s political bias present in the bureau.
‘As we’ve said, the president has enormous respect for the thousands of rank and file FBI agents who make up the world’s most professional and talented law enforcement agency,’ Shah told Axios. ‘He believes politically-motivated senior leaders including former Director Comey and others he empowered have tainted the agency’s reputation for unbiased pursuit of justice.’
At the White House’s daily briefing, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House ‘felt like the FBI at the top, with Director Comey and others, had been politicized’ and that ‘generally speaking, that it had become political.’
‘That was one of the reasons that the President wanted Director Wray there, somebody of impeccable integrity, to make those decisions. And if changes needed to be made, he would do so,’ she said.
Axios reported Sunday that when Wray came on board Sessions recommended that he clean house, advising that he get a ‘fresh start.’
FBI lawyer James A. Baker, who was ‘reassigned’ last month, was another one of Sessions’ recommended dismissals.
That move prompted a tweet from Trump that said: ‘Wow, ‘FBI lawyer James Baker reassigned…’
Sessions may have backed off of McCabe, according to the New York Times’, because he will soon retire. He becomes eligible for full retirement benefits in 2018.
Another high-profile firing at the FBI prior could create trouble for Trump.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is said to be reviewing allegations of obstruction of justice against Trump after his canning of Comey.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that Sessions had been interviewed for hours by Mueller’s team. Comey also spoke recently with Mueller’s team.
Muller wants to interview President Trump within weeks, the Washington Post this week reported.
Aside from his firing of Comey, Mueller is reportedly interested in Trump’s dismissal of his first National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who has since been indicted.