10 Things in Politics: Inside the Biden-era FBI

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·7 min read
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Good morning! I hope you all had a nice Mother's Day weekend. Welcome back to 10 Things in Politics, your weekday look at the biggest stories in DC and beyond. Sign up here to receive this newsletter.

Send tips to bgriffiths@insider.com or tweet me at @BrentGriffiths.

Here's what we're talking about:

One thing to look out for today: President Joe Biden is set to speak about the economy at 1:15 p.m. ET.

Chris Wray 2020
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifying on Capitol Hill last year. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

1. A NEW ERA AT THE FBI: FBI Director Chris Wray barely survived the Trump era. He threatened to quit once, and Attorney General Bill Barr ran interference for him multiple times, including last spring when President Donald Trump had loyalists ready to replace Wray and another top bureau official.

Insider spoke with nearly a dozen current and former Department of Justice officials about Wray and what life would be like for him under a very different boss.

Here's a peek at what we found:

Barr threatened to resign when he learned of the plot to oust Wray: Barr walked out of a White House meeting with Bill Evanina, a top counterintelligence official in the administration, who would have been Wray's replacement. The Trump national security official Kash Patel would have been the new FBI deputy director.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is very different from Barr: Barr was known as "the Buffalo" for his hard-charging ways. Garland is a soft-spoken former federal judge who, like Wray, was once a line prosecutor.

  • Key quote: "Barr is a force of nature and pure id," a former Justice Department official told Insider. "Garland may be finding himself having a similar experience to Wray's: They're thoughtful, reserved institutionalists who are doing their best to guide institutions they cherish through a highly politically charged time in our nation's history, having to navigate the currents in both directions."

While Wray is seen as very different from his more famous predecessors: "He's not an icon like Mueller or Comey," a former top FBI official told Insider, referring to Robert Mueller and Jim Comey. "He's very much a traditional, by-the-book, knows-where-he-fits-into-the-organization kind of FBI director."

Officials say Wray and Garland's relationship will be shaped by the DOJ's efforts to address domestic terrorism: "You don't control what comes at you as attorney general, and that relationship has to work really well for the department to be working really well," said Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration.

Read more about what tricky issues former officials say lay ahead for Wray and the White House.

2. It's unclear when a major gas pipeline will be fully online, meaning you could pay more at the pump: There's no estimate for when most of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest gasoline conduit to the US East Coast, will restart after a devastating cyberattack on Friday, Politico reports. A prolonged shutdown could wreak havoc on gas prices as financial futures last night jumped to nearly $2.22 a gallon, their highest mark in years. Colonial has confirmed it was the target of a ransomware attack.

3. Hundreds of pandemic victims' bodies remain in refrigerated trucks in New York City: The bodies of as many as 750 COVID-19 victims are still being stored more than a year after the height of the city's coronavirus outbreak, The City reports. A New York official said most of the remains could end up being buried on Hart Island, where for the past 100 years the city has buried those who lack funds for a private burial. The City's analysis found one in 10 New Yorkers who died of COVID-19 last year was buried on the island.

Jim Clyburn
The House majority whip, Jim Clyburn. SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

4. Key Democrat hints at a deal over police reform: The House majority whip, Jim Clyburn, suggested that he would support new police legislation even if it didn't include an overhaul of qualified immunity, the legal protection for officers that has reportedly been a sticking point in bipartisan negotiations. Clyburn said he didn't "want to see us throw out a good bill because we can't get a perfect bill." His comments are a departure from other Democrats who want to see the doctrine changed or eliminated.

5. Kevin McCarthy officially backed Liz Cheney's ouster: The top House Republican said he supported Rep. Elise Stefanik replacing Cheney as the No. 3 House Republican, publicly confirming his reported private frustrations with Cheney and paving the way for her ouster. "As conference chair, you have one of the most critical jobs as a messenger going forward," McCarthy said on Fox News. Cheney could be removed from her post as early as this week.

6. These are the stocks lawmakers are trading: Rep. Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican who has bemoaned Big Tech, bought up to $50,000 in Amazon stock earlier this month. Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning's husband, Randall Kaplan, made $1 million to $2 million worth of hedge fund investments in early March. Half of the investment was with Melvin Capital LP, the hedge fund involved in the GameStop short squeeze.

And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a Democrat from Arizona, took a more novel approach to generate some extra money. She worked a harvest for Three Sticks Winery in California. The senator earned $1,117.40 as an intern.

Read the rest of our exclusive roundup here.

7. April's disappointing jobs report is setting the stage for an infrastructure fight: Democrats and Republicans came to opposite conclusions on why the economy added just 266,000 jobs in April, a disappointing figure that was far lower than experts expected. President Joe Biden and Democrats argue that his $4 trillion infrastructure plans are necessary to getting Americans back to work at pre-pandemic levels. The GOP, in contrast, sees more evidence of why any more major spending should be halted. More on the fight that will play out over the coming months.

8. Six people were killed at a birthday party in Colorado: The police say a man opened fire, killing his ex-girlfriend, five others, and himself in Colorado Springs. Officers say children and adults were enjoying the party at a mobile home when the attacker entered, though no children were harmed. This comes nearly seven weeks after 10 people were killed in a shooting at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado.

9. Fauci said it's "quite possible" that masks become a seasonal item: Face masks and other efforts helped lead to a "practically a nonexistent flu season," Dr. Anthony Fauci said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Fauci said people might elect to wear masks in the years to come to help reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses like seasonal flu. More on his comments here.

10. No horsing around. A cloud hangs over the Triple Crown after a positive drug test: The Kentucky Derby champ Medina Spirit failed a postrace drug test, raising questions about its Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, whom rivals have previously accused of cheating. The horse tested positive for betamethasone, an injectable corticosteroid that is used to reduce pain and swelling in joints. Baffert denied that he or anyone on his team injected the drug. Churchill Downs said Medina Spirit would be stripped of the Derby title if a second test confirmed the drug's presence.

Today's trivia question: What did a Western Union telegraph marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad say? Email your guess and a suggested question to me at bgriffiths@insider.com.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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