WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump ratcheted up pressure on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to fire the acting FBI director, who has been a periodic target of conservative attacks.
In two tweets Wednesday morning, Trump criticized Sessions for not replacing acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, whose wife ran for office in Virginia as a Democrat in 2015 and received contributions from the state Democratic Party.
“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe,” Trump wrote.
Trump called McCabe, a 31-year veteran of the FBI, a “Comey friend who was in charge of the Clinton investigation.” McCabe was James B. Comey’s deputy before Trump fired Comey in June. At that point, McCabe took over running the bureau, but he hasn’t been running the Russia investigation, which is directed by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
Trump’s tweets are based on several false claims.
McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, a pediatrician, ran for a seat in the Virginia Senate in 2015 and lost to the Republican incumbent.
At the time, Andrew McCabe had no role in the Clinton investigation. When Jill McCabe entered the race, her husband was not working at FBI headquarters, but was a senior official in the Washington field office, working primarily on counterterrorism investigations.
By the time Andrew McCabe did become FBI deputy director in February 2016, which would have given him some role in overseeing the Russia investigation, his wife’s campaign had been over for three months.
Jill McCabe, like most Democratic candidates in Virginia, did receive money from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and from the state Democratic Party. McAuliffe is a longtime political ally of the Clintons, but there is no evidence that Hillary Clinton was involved in the donations.
In recent days Trump has taken aim at Sessions, calling him “beleaguered” and criticizing Sessions for stepping aside from oversight of the investigation into Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election.
The FBI decided last year to not bring charges against Clinton over her mishandling of State Department emails. Trump supporters often chanted “lock her up” at campaign rallies.
Trump’s criticism of Sessions has sparked speculation that Trump wants Sessions to resign and open the door for another attorney general who would fire Mueller.
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Trump said he was “disappointed” Sessions had not done more to investigate intelligence leaks and had not restarted the FBI’s investigation into Clinton.
Trump added: “So many people say to me: Why are they going after you on nothing and they leave Hillary Clinton alone on, you know, really major things?”
Trump’s nominee to become FBI Director, Christopher Wray, is awaiting Senate confirmation. Once he is confirmed, which is expected, McCabe will no longer be acting director.
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