This is a new one.
The director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, is now clashing openly with the man who nominated him, the president of the United States.
At issue is the release of a Republican-authored memorandum that alleges FBI misdeeds relating to a dossier that suggests improper relations between Donald J. Trump and the Russian government.
GOP House committee members want the memo released, suggesting it contains “evidence” of a “secret society” within the FBI. Wray disputes the idea. He is standing foursquare in defense of the agency he has led for just a few months. He’s also taking on the president himself, urging him against releasing the memo.
Trump has let it be known he is inclined to release the memo, which could undermine the FBI with critics of the document say doesn’t tell anywhere near the whole story of what the FBI knew and when it knew it. White House chief of staff John Kelly has said the memo will be made public “pretty quick.”
We might be witnessing something virtually unprecedented. Trump might fire the second FBI director in less than a year, unless Wray quits beforehand. And standing with Wray is the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special counsel Robert Mueller — another former FBI director — as special counsel to examine the “Russia thing.”
From my vantage point, I believe we are witnessing a big-time train wreck that is going to produce more than its share of collateral damage.
One of the casualties — if Trump releases the memo to the public — might be Rosenstein. Wray might hit the road. Oh, and what about Mueller, the man who was universally praised when Rosenstein selected him to lead the Russia investigation after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself?
I keep circling back to the president’s assertion that there’s no evidence of “collusion” between his campaign and the Russians who hacked into our electoral system in 2016.
If that is the case, then let Mueller’s investigation proceed. If there’s nothing there, then let the special counsel make that determination. The more protests that come from Republicans — and from the president — the more I am inclined to suspect there’s a fire burning under all that smoke.
As for Wray, he told senators he would be unafraid to challenge the president if the need arose.
The need has arisen.