WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight candidates for FBI director were interviewed at Justice Department headquarters Saturday as President Donald Trump suggested a decision on a nominee to replace ousted Director James Comey could be announced within days.
Trump was scheduled to leave Friday for his first overseas trip as president. He told reporters it was possible he could make public his selection before he departs for the Mideast and Europe.
“I think the process is going to go quickly. Almost all of them are very well-known,” Trump said aboard the plane that took him to Lynchburg, Virginia, where he gave the commencement address at Liberty University. “They’ve been vetted over their lifetime essentially, but very well-known, highly respected, really talented people. And that’s what we want for the FBI.”
Trump abruptly fired Comey on Tuesday and later said Comey was a “showboat” and “grandstander” who was not doing a good job. The firing drew a wave of criticism in large part because the FBI has been investigating whether election meddling by Russia involved people in Trump’s presidential campaign. Changing rationales for the firing offered by White House aides added an element of chaos to the president’s action.
Comey’s replacement requires Senate confirmation. The FBI director serves a 10-year term but can be replaced by the president.
So far 14 people — lawmakers, attorneys and law enforcement officials among them — have emerged as candidates. Eight met Saturday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, throughout the day.
The first candidate to arrive for interviews was Alice Fisher, a high-ranking Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration.
Also interviewed were:
—Adam Lee, special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Richmond, Virginia.
—Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe.
—Michael J. Garcia, a former prosecutor and associate judge on New York’s appeals court
— Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate leader and a former Texas attorney general.
—U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson, a Bush appointee who struck down the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s health care law in 2010.
—Frances Townsend, former Bush homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.
—Former Rep. Mike Rogers of Michigan, who was chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. An ex-FBI agent, Rogers drew the backing of the FBI Agents Association, which said his diverse background makes him the best choice.
Fisher and Townsend were the only women on the list of candidates. The FBI has never had a female director.
Sessions has faced questions over whether his involvement in Comey’s firing violates his pledge to recuse himself from investigations into Russian interference in the election. Some lawmakers have alleged the firing was an effort to stifle that FBI probe.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said Sessions and Rosenstein were involved in the interviews because the FBI director reports to them as attorney general and deputy attorney general.