FBI director search: back to drawing board for Trump team?

Reuters News
Posted: May 24, 2017 3:41 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A week after President Donald Trump said he was close to picking a new FBI director to replace the one he fired, the White House has decided to renew its search, CNN reported on Wednesday.

The Republican president said last Thursday he was "very close" to selecting a new head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to replace James Comey, and that former Senator Joseph Lieberman was among the top candidates.

Trump left the following day on his first trip abroad, a nine-day visit to the Middle East and Europe, without naming a replacement.

Citing an unidentified senior administration official, CNN reported Trump now wants to consider additional candidates for the job.

The White House did not immediately return a request for comment on the search. A spokesperson for the Justice Department, which had been taking a lead role, said it had no further information on the search at this time.

Lieberman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

Trump fired Comey on May 9 in a surprise announcement that sparked days of political turmoil. His replacement will be under intense scrutiny. Comey was leading the FBI's probe of possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russian operatives whom U.S. intelligence officials say meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump and Russia deny any collusion.

Lieberman is a senior counsel at the New York-based law firm of Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, which has represented Trump on various matters for years.

Trump has tapped one of the firm's partners, Marc Kasowitz, to be his private attorney while a special counsel investigates whether his 2016 presidential campaign worked with Russia to defeat Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said last Wednesday that Trump was scheduled to interview four candidates for the position before departing on his overseas trip: Lieberman; acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe; former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating; and former senior FBI official Richard McFeely.

Earlier, the White House had circulated the names of 11 contenders.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Editing by Marla Dickerson)