Ever since now-former FBI Director Jim Comey’s abrupt firing that shocked Washington D.C., a number of questions have swirled: Why was Comey fired? Was Comey really asked to pledge his loyalty to the President? Why does the White House keep changing its story? Will this lead to some sort of independent commission or special prosecutor? And what does this mean for the variety of investigations surrounding Russia?
But there is another immediate & pressing question that needs addressing as well: Who will replace Comey as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (our nation’s premiere law enforcement agency)? Well, in an exclusive from sources inside the White House, Fox News reports that it has obtained a list of the first four leading contenders, all of whom will be interviewing with the Attorney General & Deputy Attorney General on Saturday (May the 13th). From the report:
“The four candidates meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy Rod Rosenstein are: Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, who used to work in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; the acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who recently testified before Congress about the agency’s Russia collusion investigation; Texas Sen. John Cornyn, the current Senate Majority Whip and former attorney general of Texas who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee; Judge Michael J. Garcia of the New York Court of Appeals, who previously served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York. The administration is considering nearly a dozen candidates – a list that includes top current and former lawmakers as well as law enforcement figures – to replace fired FBI Director James Comey, a White House official briefed on the matter told Fox News on Friday.”
Whoever takes over will be stepping into a media firestorm and into a bright-as-the-sun spotlight with confirmation hearings that are assured to be full of high drama (both real and manufactured). Not to mention the fact that they will be put in charge of winning the trust of and guiding the 35,000 employees of the FBI, handling some of our nation’s most important investigations, enforcing the law, and safeguarding our national security. So who are these candidates, anyway?
THE FIRST FOUR BEING INTERVIEWED SATURDAY
Former Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher: She’s had a wide-ranging legal career and is currently a Managing Partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins LLP, the nation’s highest-grossing firm with business & political clients all over the world, where she focuses on criminal investigations, white collar crime, sanctions compliance, fraud, & international security law. She served as an Assistant Attorney General during the Bush administration starting in 2005 (most notably obtaining the Jack Abramoff plea deal) and she’s considered one of the best & most powerful female lawyers in the nation’s capital.
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe: He became the Deputy Director of the FBI on January 29, 2016 and assumed the role of Acting FBI Director when Comey was fired on Tuesday. He is dogged by a number of issues, however, including the fact that he contradicted the Trump administration to some extent during his testimony in front of the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday as well as the fact that he is under investigation by DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General over the fact that his wife received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Clinton allies while he failed to recuse himself from the Clinton email server investigation. Prior to his roles as a deputy & an acting head, he worked out of the FBI’s New York Field Office as well as its Washington Field Office, and he held roles in the Counterterrorism Division and the National Security Branch, as well as leading the High-Value Interrogation Group that was formed in 2009 after the election of President Obama.
Texas Senator John Cornyn: He is the senior Senator from the state of Texas, serving in that capacity since 2002. He’s a current member of the Senate Judiciary Committee (including its Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, & Homeland Security where he had a recent run-in with former DNI James Clapper & former Acting AG Sally Yates). Prior to being a Senator, Cornyn served as the Texas Attorney General from 1998 til 2002. Before that, he was an Associate Justice for the Texas Supreme Court from 1991 til 1997, and before that he was a District Court Judge in Texas from 1985 til 1991. His legal experience spans nearly two decades as either a judge or attorney general plus over a decade and a half in the Senate working on issues related to law enforcement and national security.
New York Judge Michael J. Garcia: He has served as an Associate Judge on the New York Court of Appeals since February 8, 2016, after being appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Prior to that he had nearly a decade-long stint in private practice. His previous government experience is pretty extensive though: Assistant US Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 1992 til 2001, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement in 2001 & 2002, Acting Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service in 2002 & 2003, Assistant Secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement from 2003 til 2005, and then back to the Southern District of New York but this time as its lead US Attorney. He might be most widely known recently for his role as FIFA’s ethics prosecutor (a position he’d eventually resign), where he investigated massive allegations of corruption with soccer’s global body (it’s an incredibly fascinating & disheartening story, and the so-called “Garcia Report” still hasn’t been released).
OTHER LEADING CANDIDATES
A number of other potential candidates being mentioned who themselves won’t be at Saturday’s job interview with Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein include: Representative Mike Rogers (a former FBI agent himself); Mayor John Suthers (a former federal prosecutor and now-mayor of Colorado Springs); George Terwilliger (a former deputy attorney general under George HW Bush, Comey-critic, and Republican activist); former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly (who directed the first World Trade Center bombing investigation in the 1990’s); Representative Trey Gowdy (who led the House Benghazi investigation); Paul Abbate (Assistant Director-in-Charge of the FBI); Chuck Rosenberg (the current head of the DEA); J. Michael Luttig (Executive VP of Boeing & a former judge on the appellate court); Ken Wainstein (the very first head of DOJ’s national security division); Larry Thompson (a Comey-critic and former deputy attorney general under George W. Bush); Mark Filip (also a former deputy attorney general as well as a federal judge and Scalia law clerk); Frances Townsend (a Bush homeland security adviser and former NY prosecutor); Michael Anderson (Chicago FBI agent-in-charge); Adam Lee (Richmond FBI agent-in-charge); Kelly Ayotte (former Senator from New Hampshire); Rudy Giuliani (former Mayor of NYC, Trump ally, & 2008 candidate in the Republican presidential primary); Chris Christie (current Governor of New Jersey and early Trump supporter); and even Merrick Garland (Obama’s former Supreme Court nominee for the seat left open by Antonin Scalia that has now been filled by Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch).
PICKING A SUCCESSOR
Over at National Review, they offer the following advice to President Trump as he decides who will succeed James Comey as head of the Bureau: “Trump now has the similar task of finding a new Justice Department official to succeed Comey. Trump can put to rest the allegations that Comey’s removal obstructs the investigation into the Russian connection by nominating a figure of impeccable credentials and personal integrity who will pledge to continue the investigation no matter where it leads. For that reason, we think that nominating a former elected politician would be a mistake, because that nominee’s every move would raise doubts about partisan motivation – fairly or not. Instead, Trump should pick a former prosecutor or Justice Department official with a reputation for independence and long experience in law enforcement, with few if any ties to the Trump campaign or the administration.” Whoever the pick ends up being, they will certainly have a monumental task in front of them as they work to restore faith & confidence as well as protect the nation. So let’s hope that they are a man or woman of superb skill & redoubtable integrity. The Bureau, and indeed the nation itself, deserves nothing less.