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Trump suggests he’d consider removing FBI director over unfavorable testimony

President Trump on Sept. 18 said he did not like FBI Director Christopher A. Wray's remarks about antifa being an ideology and not an organization. (Video: The Washington Post, Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post)

President Trump didn’t dispute Friday that he could consider removing Christopher A. Wray as FBI director after Wray gave congressional testimony Trump didn’t like on Russian interference in the 2020 election and the threat of antifa to Americans.

Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee on Thursday that Russia is still working to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, trying to “denigrate” Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. Questioned about antifa protesters, Wray said that they were not a structured group, but an ideology or movement that attracts followers, and that some of those adherents are under investigation for possible crimes.

Trump was asked outside the White House before departing for a campaign event whether he would consider removing Wray over his testimony.

“We’re looking at a lot of different things and I did not like his answers yesterday and I’m not sure he liked them either. I’m sure he probably would agree with me. Antifa is bad, really bad,” Trump said. Trump has used the fringe anarchist believers to paint a dark image of America under Biden.

“And if you look at it, who is the real problem? The big problem is China. And we can have others also and I’m not excluding anybody. But the big problem is China, and why he doesn’t want to say that, that certainly bothers me,” Trump added, referring to reports that China was working to boost Biden in the election.

An FBI spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Trump had made his annoyance with the FBI director’s testimony known, tweeting after that the FBI was letting antifa “get away with murder.”

The president has also complained privately about Wray for months, but advisers have urged him not to make any moves or personnel decisions before the election, according to people familiar with the discussions.

This was the second time this week that Trump pushed back against sworn testimony from one of the top officials in his administration on issues that are central to the election and his own political interests. Trump publicly rebuked Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for telling a congressional committee that it was unlikely that a coronavirus vaccine would be available to the general public until at least the middle of next year.

The president has frequently criticized Wray’s FBI for not pursuing criminal cases against former officials such as ex-director James B. Comey or former deputy director Andrew McCabe, who investigated the president’s 2016 campaign.

Trump fired Comey as head of the FBI early in his presidency in an attempt to quell investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.