“He has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI,” the White House chief of staff said of the bureau director.
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows publicly attacked FBI Director Christopher Wray on Friday, a day after the director said there was no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud that have been pushed by President Donald Trump.
The rebuke by the president’s top aide of the leader of the nation’s premier law enforcement agency represents the latest escalation of the White House’s efforts to sow doubt about the outcome of the November election.
In an interview on “CBS This Morning,” Meadows was pressed on Wray’s testimony before a Senate committee on Thursday, during which the FBI director said bureau officials “have not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”
Meadows rejected that finding on Friday morning, saying: “With all due respect to Director Wray, he has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there’s any kind of voter fraud.”
Meadows’ criticism comes after the Justice Department announced on Thursday that it had begun an inquiry into nine military ballots in a northeastern Pennsylvania county that were found “discarded.” The department said seven of the ballots had been cast for Trump after initially saying all nine were in support of the president, and officials did not allege any particular crime or wrongdoing.
The unusual nature of the department’s announcement and the timing of the new probe provoked immediate suspicion among election experts and lawyers, and contributed to concerns that Attorney General William Barr is acting to benefit Trump politically with fewer than 40 days to go until Election Day.
On Friday morning, Meadows suggested that Wray should “drill down on” the Pennsylvania ballot inquiry and personally intervene in other voter fraud cases. “Perhaps he needs to get involved on the ground, and then he would change his testimony on Capitol Hill,” Meadows said.
Trump, who tapped Wray to become FBI director in 2017, has repeatedly scolded the bureau chief in recent years, most notably on matters related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference and Trump’s 2016 campaign.
After Wray testified before Congress last week about “very active efforts” by Russia to interfere in the 2020 election and damage Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Trump admonished Wray on Twitter and urged him to investigate voter fraud.
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