On the heels of numerous reports regarding current FBI Director Christopher Wray’s threatening to quit, President Trump’s asking then-acting director Andrew McCabe who he voted for, and the Donald’s attempt to fire the special prosecutor in June, this has been quite the week. And it isn’t over, for Foreign Policy is now reporting that Trump ordered several aides to launch a campaign against potential FBI witnesses against him following fired FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The purpose of said campaign? To discredit them before they had a chance to talk to Robert Mueller.
After Comey admitted “that he spoke contemporaneously with other senior bureau officials” about Trump’s apparent efforts “to curtail the FBI’s investigation of alleged collusion,” the president’s personal lawyer, John Dowd, reportedly explained what this might mean for his client:
Dowd warned Trump that the potential corroborative testimony of the senior FBI officials in Comey’s account would likely play a central role in the special counsel’s final conclusion, according to people familiar with the matter.
As a result of Dowd’s warning, the president apparently decided to try and get ahead of Mueller’s potential FBI witnesses by discrediting the senior officials Comey had referred to in his testimony:
In discussions with at least two senior White House officials, Trump repeated what Dowd had told him to emphasize why he and his supporters had to “fight back harder,” in the words of one of these officials.
The three FBI officials Comey named, and Trump wanted discredited, were then-acting direct McCabe, Comey’s chief-of-staff and senior counselor Jim Rybicki, and former FBI general counsel James Baker. As Foreign Policy notes, these revelations are quite startling as “no previous president has attacked a long-standing American institution such as the FBI — or specific FBI agents and law enforcement officials.” Considering the many times Trump has openly trashed the bureau, and his reported desire to “go to war” against the agency, none of this seems all that surprising despite how shocking and unprecedented it is.