Attorney General Bill Barr threatened to quit last year over Trump's attempts to fire FBI Director Chris Wray

bill barr
US Attorney General Bill Barr is pictured on October 15, 2020. Jeff Roberson/Pool/AFP via Getty Images
  • Attorney General Bill Barr threatened to quit last spring when Trump tried to fire FBI Director Chris Wray, Insider has learned.

  • Trump publicly voiced dissatisfaction with Wray, who sometimes contradicted the president's claims.

  • Wray was not fired and was able to hold onto his role under the Biden administration.

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Last spring, when President Donald Trump was considering firing FBI Director Chris Wray, Attorney General Bill Barr threatened to resign in protest, a person briefed on the deliberations told Insider.

The person said Barr went to the White House for a meeting and was introduced to Bill Evanina, a top counterintelligence official in the Trump administration who had previously worked at the FBI. When Barr realized Evanina was being suggested as a replacement for Wray, he left the room.

When told of the plotting, Barr threatened to resign in protest, according to the person briefed on the deliberations.

It was the closest Wray, who has held onto his position under the Biden administration, ever came to getting fired during Trump's tenure, the person briefed on the matter said.

Read more: FBI director Chris Wray barely survived the Trump era. Now he's working with Biden's attorney general taking on domestic terrorism and probing Trump allies.

Trump had expressed dissatisfaction with Wray, who he had nominated to lead the bureau after his firing of James Comey in 2017, which prompted the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether Trump had sought to obstruct the Russia investigation.

Wray's statements about antifa, voter fraud, and Russia's election interference efforts often put him at odds with Trump, who publicly voiced frustration with his FBI director.

Ahead of the 2020 election, Trump pressured Wray to address the potential of widespread voter fraud, though Wray disputed that it was a rampant issue. In September 2020, Wray said Russia was meddling in the election to "sow divisiveness" and "denigrate" presidential candidate Joe Biden, while Trump continued to downplay Russia's efforts.

In October, reports said Trump was considering firing Wray after the election, though it never happened. When President Joe Biden took office, administration officials said he had no intentions of firing Wray. Prior to Trump, it was the norm for FBI directors to serve their full 10-year term.

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