President Donald Trump on Friday took issue with his FBI director, Christopher Wray, for highlighting the threat posed by Russia and right-wing militias to the U.S. election, rather than focusing on China and left-wing groups.
Trump, whose campaign was accused by political opponents of having murky ties to Russian operatives offering assistance during the 2016 election, has repeatedly challenged intelligence officials’ claims that Moscow still poses the chief danger.
Still, the Republican’s criticism of Wray at the White House, a day after the FBI chief testified before Congress, was unusually public for a U.S. president.
Asked by reporters if he wanted to fire Wray, Trump said: “We’re looking at a lot of different things.”
“I did not like his answers yesterday. I’m not sure he liked them either. I’m sure that he probably would agree with me,” Trump said.
Sidney Powell, the lawyer for Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, is on the White House shortlist of candidates to replace FBI Director Christopher Wray, reports Newsmax TV’s Emerald Robinson.
During a Friday update on Newsmax TV’s “John Bachman Now,” Robinson said she was exclusively told that the White House “is formulating a list of replacements right now” for Wray.
In his remarks on Friday, the president also reiterated his insistence that China, not Russia, is the bigger problem.
“Obviously China is at the top of the list. I see Russia, North Korea, many other countries, can be talked about. But China would be at the top of that list, so I don’t know why that’s not mentioned,” Trump said.
He also rebuked Wray for his assessment that white supremacist groups represent the biggest threat of domestic violence in the already tense pre-election season.
“Within the racially motivated violent extremist bucket, people subscribing to some kind of white supremacist ideology is certainly the biggest chunk,” Wray said in his testimony to Congress.
Trump, who has support from armed, right-wing militia groups and the conspiracy theory movement QAnon, said Wray should instead have been focusing on Antifa, a loose-knit leftist movement at the forefront of sometimes-violent anti-racism protests.
In addition to castigating China on the campaign trail, Trump has forcefully maintained that Antifa is seeking to destroy American suburbs and promote mass violence a central part of his reelection message.
“Antifa’s a bad group and they’re criminals and they’re anarchists and they’re agitators and they’re looters and rioters and everything else,” he told reporters.
“They’re bad. And when a man doesn’t say that, that bothers me. I wonder why he’s not saying that,” he said of Wray.