Earlier today, I brought you the report that President Trump has no intention of firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and that’s to his (Trump’s) benefit, at this particular time.
There is now speculation, however, that Trump’s nomination of Christopher Wray, a former Justice Department official with ties to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, may be meant as a warning to Sessions.
Christie was as loyal of a surrogate to Trump at the height of the 2016 election as Sessions was, enduring multiple shows of demeaning shots about his weight, fetching Trump’s lunch, and a general disrespect that led many to believe he was sticking around for a payoff, of some kind.
The Attorney General’s spot was considered to be that payoff. It just didn’t happen.
A source close to the White House said Wray’s selection was meant to send a message to Sessions, who, according to reports, recently offered to resign over Trump’s continued disappointment that he recused himself from the federal probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election.
“If Trump wanted Sessions out, he would have accepted his resignation,” the source said. “But I can’t imagine Sessions is pleased knowing a friend of Christie’s could soon be running the FBI.”
Sessions didn’t play a major role in vetting Wray, even though he reviewed the credentials of other contenders, the source said.
In other words, Trump jumped the usual chain of vetting and just tossed somebody in there, knowing this would be a slap in Sessions’ face.
Wray worked with Christie in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, and when Governor Christie came under fire in the Bridgegate scandal, Wray was called in to be his personal lawyer.
Is Trump saying to Sessions, “I should have picked Christie”?
Hard to say, but the two certainly have different approaches.
The Michael Flynn situation, for example, has drawn a firm line in how each man views the case.
In April, Sessions insisted neither the transition team nor the White House should be faulted for failing to uncover Flynn’s work as a foreign agent for the Turkish government or the money he received from Russia’s state-owned cable TV network.
Christie, however, last week said he had opposed Flynn from the start, noting: “I made that very clear to candidate Trump, and I made it very clear to President-elect Trump.”
“I think the president could be better served than he’s been served,” Christie added.
Sessions was also unhappy when Trump in March tapped Christie to lead a task force on opioid addiction without consulting him first, according to the New York Times.
So there’s some rivalry.
None of this is to suggest Wray is unqualified or not a solid pick.
The speculation is there, however, and how Sessions responds could be quite interesting.