- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

President Trump took a swipe at his attorney general on Wednesday for his failure to replace the acting FBI director — a curious critique give the statutory authority to appoint someone outside the normal line of succession rests squarely on the president’s shoulders.

The president fired off a tweet attacking Attorney General Jeff Sessions — the third in three days — and questioned why he didn’t replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got….big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!” Mr. Trump wrote.

Mr. McCabe’s wife, who ran for a state office in Virginia, received several hundred thousand dollars from political action committees controlled by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and close friend and ally of the Clintons.

After Mr. Trump fired former FBI Director James B. Comey, Mr. Sessions and his deputy attorney general interviewed several candidates as potential temporary replacements for Mr. Comey. But ultimately Mr. McCabe, who had been Mr. Comey’s deputy director and was the next in the line of succession for the position, was left on as acting director.

 

 

 

 

Though Justice Department officials met with at least four other candidates for the temporary position, a statute that outlines the rules for selecting an acting official indicates that it is the president who has the legal authority to deviate from the normal line of succession and to select a different acting official.

The statute says “the President (and only the President) may direct a person who serves in an office for which appointment is required to be made by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to perform the functions and duties of the vacant office temporarily in an acting capacity.”

The president, and again only the president, may also “direct an officer or employee of such Executive agency to perform the functions and duties of the vacant office temporarily in an acting capacity,” the statute goes on to say.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sidestepped a question about why the president didn’t take action to fire Mr. McCabe.

“The president has made an incredible nominee in Chris Wray and he is looking forward to getting him confirmed and taking over the FBI,” Mrs. Sanders said Wednesday when asked about the president’s tweet.

Mrs. Sanders said the president has not met with Mr. Sessions this week, but gave no indication that the president intends to fire the attorney general.

“You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job and that’s where they are,” she said.

Mr. Trump has ramped up his public ridicule of his attorney general — lashing out at Mr. Sessions in early morning tweets three times this week over a variety of matters.

Tuesday began with a similar attack against the attorney general over Mr. McCabe.

“Problem is that the acting head of the FBI & the person in charge of the Hillary investigation, Andrew McCabe, got $700,000 from H for wife! Attorney General Jeff Sessions has taken a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!” Mr. Trump wrote.

The president followed up the attacks during a press conference Tuesday afternoon in the White House Rose Garden, adding to speculation he intends to fire Mr. Sessions.

“I’m very disappointed with the attorney general. But we will see what happens. Time will tell. Time will tell,” Mr. Trump said when asked if he planned to fire or force out Mr. Sessions.

On Monday, Mr. Trump vented over the lack of any investigation into his former Democratic rival.

“So why aren’t the Committees and investigators, and of course our beleaguered A.G., looking into Crooked Hillarys crimes & Russia relations?” Mr. Trump wrote.

But Mr. Trump has also publicly vented about Mr. Sessions in several interviews, lamenting the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and critiquing what he believed was disingenuous loyalty on the behalf of Mr. Sessions.

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