The most high-profile candidate to replace James Comey as head of the FBI has been eliminated from contention as the Trump administration hit the proverbial “reset button” on the search, CNN reported Wednesday.
Joe Lieberman, the former senator from Connecticut and the 2000 Democrat nominee for vice president on Al Gore’s ticket, has reportedly been dropped from contention as Trump seeks a wider range of candidates.
Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas was reportedly Trump’s top pick for the position, but he declined the job.
Cornyn became the latest individual to remove himself from contention; South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, former FBI official Richard McFeely, former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher and New York Court of Appeals Associate Judge Michael Garcia have all removed their names from the list.
Joe Lieberman no longer being considered for FBI director. President’s team has hit the restart button on the search for a new FBI Director
— Shimon Prokupecz (@ShimonPro) May 24, 2017
A source “familiar with the selection process” (oh, CNN, will you ever change?) said that the ideal candidate to head the FBI “should be someone who knows the inner-workings of either the Justice Department or the FBI and also has the energy and vitality to handle the demands of the job for what is supposed to be a 10-year term.”
Lieberman, who is 75 now (and exuded a kind of dignified sleepiness even when he was in his prime) seems to fail that test on a number of levels. He’s a career politician who the source said “simply does not have the right experience to lead the FBI.”
“People inside the FBI, along with former FBI officials, believe Lieberman simply was not the right choice,” he added.
There was also the fact that Lieberman is a partner at the same law firm as one of the lawyers Trump is expected to name to a team that will guide him through the Russia investigation, meaning it could create a conflict of interest.
And if the president was thinking that he could engender some goodwill across the aisle by picking a Democrat, think again. As The New York Times pointed out, Lieberman’s generally conservative outlook on things led to sour relations with his party. That culminated in Lieberman losing his Senate primary in 2006; he eventually won the race as an independent.
While Trump had recently said he was “very close” to naming a replacement for Comey, the reset and the broader search means we’re not likely to see a candidate anytime soon. Good. This is a decision the president needs to get right. We can’t have another Comey.
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