Fourteen Candidates Make Short List for FBI Director

WASHINGTON (CN) – The White House said Monday that 14 candidates will likely be interviewed before a new FBI director is chosen, and eight of those interviews have already taken place.

And President Donald Trump reiterated Monday that he could announce his selection before he leave the US to visit the Middle East and Europe at the end of this week.

The president first allowed that might happen while traveling with reporters on Saturday. He repeated it Monday morning following a meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Zayid al Nuhayyan.

According to the Associated Press, the fourteen candidates are:

SEN. JOHN CORNYN

Cornyn is the No. 2 Senate Republican and a former Texas attorney general and state Supreme Court justice. He has been a member of the Senate GOP leadership team for a decade and serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In the aftermath of Comey’s dismissal, Cornyn said Trump was “within his authority” to fire him and said it would not affect the investigation of possible Russian ties to Trump’s presidential campaign.

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FORMER REP. MIKE ROGERS

Rogers is the former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He served Michigan in Congress for more than a decade before stepping down in 2015. Rogers worked for the FBI as a special agent based in Chicago in the 1990s and briefly advised Trump’s transition team on national security issues. His name was floated as a possible replacement for then-FBI Director Robert Mueller in 2013, and he received support from an association of FBI agents before President Barack Obama chose Comey.

Rogers is the only candidate to be endorsed by the FBI Agents Association, or FBIAA.

In a statement over the weekend, the organization, which is comprised of more than 13,000 active duty and retired agents, said Rogers easily exemplified the qualities that the next FBI director should have.

“It is essential that the next FBI Director understand the details of how agents do their important work. Mike Rogers’ background as a special agent, veteran of the armed forces and former member of Congress sets him apart as someone capable of confronting the wide array of challenges facing our country,” the association said, adding that the former agent’s experience would be ideal for collaborative efforts between Congress and the FBI when it comes to tackling national security threats.

In an interview by email on Monday night, Josh Zive, senior counsel at the legal firm Bracewell –  who represents the FBIAA – said that though they have “no basis” for predicting who Trump will appoint, they are confident that Rogers is the best candidate. Adding that he could not draw comparisons between Rogers and other nominees who share an FBI background, like Paul Abbate or Andrew McCabe, Zive said Roger’s experience working on “cutting-edge security threats while chair of the House Intelligence Committee” is what makes him stand out.

Zive also said McCabe, who serves as the FBI’s acting director is highly regarded by the FBI but is not the FBIAA’s perfect fit.

“These decisions were not easy for the FBIAA, and a variety of factors were considered in order to determine which candidate should be endorsed. The FBIAA has nothing negative to say about Andrew McCabe, and we hold him in the highest regard. The FBIAA believes that is an excellent person to lead the Bureau through this transition to a new permanent Director,” Zive said.

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RAY KELLY

Kelly was commissioner of the New York City Police Department for more than a decade, serving two mayors. In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, he created the first counterterrorism bureau of any municipal police department and oversaw a drastic reduction in crime. But Kelly also came under fire for his use of aggressive police tactics, including a program that spied on Muslims and a dramatic spike in the use of stop-and-frisk, which disproportionately affected nonwhite New Yorkers.

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J. MICHAEL LUTTIG

Luttig, the general counsel for Boeing Corp., is viewed as a conservative legal powerhouse from his tenure as a judge on the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and his time as a Justice Department lawyer. He was considered for two U.S. Supreme Court vacancies that went to Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Luttig clashed with the George W. Bush White House on a prominent terror case, rebuking the administration for its actions in the case involving “enemy combatant” Jose Padilla.

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LARRY THOMPSON

A deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush, Thompson served as the department’s No. 2 from 2001 to 2003. Among his most high-profile actions was allowing Syrian-born Canadian citizen Maher Arar to be deported to Syria, where he was tortured, after being falsely named as a terrorist. Thompson also served as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and held several high-level positions at PepsiCo.

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PAUL ABBATE

Abbate is a senior official at the FBI, currently responsible for the bureau’s criminal and cyber branch. He previously led FBI field offices in Washington, one of the agency’s largest, and in Detroit. He’s been deeply involved for years in FBI efforts to fight terrorism, serving in supervisory roles in Iraq and Afghanistan and later overseeing FBI international terrorism investigations as a section chief. He’s been with the FBI for more than 20 years, and is one of the FBI officials who interviewed this week for the role of interim director.

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ALICE FISHER

Currently a partner at the law firm Latham & Watkins specializing in white-collar criminal and internal investigations, Fisher formerly served as assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Fisher faced resistance from Democrats during her confirmation over her alleged participation in discussions about policies at the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. She also served as deputy special counsel to the Senate special committee that investigated President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater scandal. If selected, she would be the bureau’s first female director.

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ANDREW MCCABE

A Duke-educated lawyer, McCabe was named last year as the FBI’s deputy director, the No. 2 position in the bureau, overseeing significant investigations and operations. Since joining the FBI more than 20 years ago, he’s held multiple leadership positions, including overseeing the FBI’s national security branch and its Washington field office. McCabe became acting director after Comey was fired, but has shown a repeated willingness to break from White House explanations of the ouster and its characterizations of the Russia investigation.

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MICHAEL GARCIA

A former New York prosecutor, Garcia has served as an associate judge on the New York Court of Appeals — the state’s highest court — since early 2016. He served as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan from 2005 to 2008, and previously held high-level positions in the Commerce Department, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

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JOHN SUTHERS

A former U.S. attorney and Colorado attorney general, Suthers was elected mayor of Colorado Springs in 2015. He is widely respected among state law enforcement and many Colorado Democrats. Suthers was inspired to become a prosecutor after he spent part of an internship in the Colorado Springs district attorney’s office watching the trial of a gang of soldiers convicted of killing various citizens, including actor Kelsey Grammer’s sister, during a crime spree in the 1970s.

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ADAM LEE

Lee, a longtime agent, is special agent in charge of the FBI’s Richmond office. He worked in a variety of positions within the bureau. Before Comey tapped him to lead the Richmond office in 2014, he was section chief of the Public Corruption and Civil Rights Section, investigating some of the highest profile cases against government officials and civil rights violations in recent years. He also led the FBI’s global Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and Antitrust Programs.

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HENRY E. HUDSON

Hudson is a federal judge in Richmond who earned praise from conservatives when he struck down the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s health care law in 2010. He is a George W. Bush appointee who earned the nickname “Hang ‘Em High Henry” for his tough-on-crime stand as a federal prosecutor and on the bench. He became a hero to animal rights activists when he sentenced NFL star Michael Vick to nearly two years in prison in 2007 for running a dogfighting ring.

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FRANCES TOWNSEND

Townsend was homeland security and counterterrorism adviser to President George W. Bush after a series of high-profile Justice Department jobs.

Among other roles, Townsend is a national security analyst for CBS News. She worked as a federal prosecutor in New York under then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani, focusing on white-collar and organized crime. At the Justice Department, she worked in a variety of jobs including leading the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review, which helped oversee intelligence-gathering activities related to the nation’s top secret surveillance court.

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REP. TREY GOWDY

The South Carolina Republican best known for leading the congressional inquiry into the deadly attacks on a U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, says he does not want the job. Gowdy said Monday that he told Attorney General Jeff Sessions he “would not be the right person.” A former federal prosecutor and state attorney, Gowdy was elected to Congress in the 2010 tea party wave and has focused on law enforcement issues. He originally endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president before backing Trump in May 2016.

Over the weekend, lawmakers made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows,  suggesting to the president that he avoid any further political quagmires when making his selection.

After a week of friction in Washington following FBI Director James Comey’s abrupt firing last Tuesday, former National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Sunday the nation’s checks and balances were “eroding” under Trump’s presidency.

Clapper said Comey’s termination amid the FBI’s ongoing probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election undermined U.S. institutions and went against the intent of U.S. Constitution and the nation’s founders.

“I think, in many ways, our institutions are under assault, externally — and that’s the big news here, the Russian interference in our election system … and I think, as well, [ that] our institutions are under assault internally,” he said.

The White House did not immediately respond to Clapper’s critique, but former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, now the US ambassador to the United Nations, offered clear support of the president.

“The president is the CEO of the country. He can hire and fire whoever he wants,” she said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham offered his own advice to the president: select an FBI agent to the lead the organization and give the nation a chance to “reset” itself.

Up for possible consideration to replace Comey are former House member and ex-FBI agent Mike Rogers, and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.

Graham said that picking someone from within the agency ranks or someone with zero political background would be prudent and would allow for that person to hit the ground running on their first day.

“The president has a chance to clean up the mess he mostly created,” Graham said.

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, suggested that Merrick Garland, who Senate Republicans denied a seat on the Supreme Court after his nomination by former President Barack Obama, could also be a good fit.

Sen. Chuck Schumer also suggested Trump’s pick should someone from outside the political arena. But he had a warning for the president as well: if they deem the president’s pick unsatisfactory, the Democrats could withhold their support until a special prosecutor is named for the ongoing Russia probe.

Only 51 votes are needed to confirm a director for the agency and Republicans currently hold 52 seats in the chamber. Democrats hold 48.

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