A new FBI direc­tor

Pres­i­dent: Direc­tor may be cho­sen by Fri­day, when he flies over­seas

The Washington Post Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - BY CAL­LUM BORCHERS AND MATT ZAPO­TO­SKY matt.zapo­to­sky@wash­post.com cal­lum.borchers@wash­post.com

The pres­i­dent says he might have a choice made by Fri­day.

Pres­i­dent Trump said that he could have a new FBI direc­tor in place be­fore he de­parts for his first over­seas trip Fri­day, an am­bi­tious goal that would give him just a few days to fill one of the most im­por­tant and sen­si­tive posts in gov­ern­ment.

“Even that is pos­si­ble,” the pres­i­dent said Satur­day aboard Air Force One when asked whether he might make a se­lec­tion be­fore leav­ing for Saudi Ara­bia, Is­rael and the Vat­i­can.

Trump briefly ad­dressed jour­nal­ists be­fore fly­ing to Lynch­burg, Va., where he de­liv­ered a com­mence­ment speech at Lib­erty Univer­sity. Jus­tice Depart­ment of­fi­cials spent the day in­ter­view­ing some of the can­di­dates to re­place James B. Comey, whom Trump fired Tues­day.

Eight con­tenders in­ter­viewed, in­clud­ing Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.); act­ing FBI Direc­tor Andrew McCabe; Alice Fisher, a white-col­lar de­fense lawyer who pre­vi­ously led the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s crim­i­nal divi­sion; Michael J. Gar­cia, a judge on the New York State Court of Ap­peals who pre­vi­ously served as the U.S. at­tor­ney for the South­ern District of New York; Adam S. Lee, the spe­cial agent in charge of the FBI’s Rich­mond field of­fice; U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hud­son, who pre­sides over the Eastern District of Vir­ginia; Frances Townsend, a for­mer Home­land Se­cu­rity ad­viser un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush; and for­mer House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee chair­man Mike D. Rogers (R-Ala.).

Rogers picked up the en­dorse­ment Satur­day of the FBI Agents As­so­ci­a­tion, the union rep­re­sent­ing ac­tive and re­tired agents. Rogers is also a for­mer FBI spe­cial agent.

In a state­ment, as­so­ci­a­tion Pres­i­dent Thomas F. O’Con­nor said Rogers’s back­ground “sets him apart.” The union also backed Rogers in 2013, the last time the FBI direc­tor po­si­tion was open.

Cornyn is the se­cond-rank­ing Se­nate Republican and a strong de­fender of Trump, a pres­i­dent who of­ten places a pre­mium on loy­alty. The New York Times re­ported Thurs­day that Trump asked Comey to pledge his loy­alty to the pres­i­dent and that Comey re­fused. The White House dis­puted that ac­count.

If loy­alty is a key fac­tor in the hir­ing de­ci­sion, McCabe might be at a dis­ad­van­tage. His al­le­giance ap­pears to re­main with Comey; in fact, McCabe in con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony Thurs­day di­rectly con­tra­dicted a White House claim that “the rank and file of the FBI had lost con­fi­dence in their direc­tor.”

“That is not ac­cu­rate,” McCabe said. “He en­joyed broad sup­port in the FBI and still does to this day.”

The can­di­dates who were in­ter­viewed Satur­day are among nearly a dozen be­ing con­sid­ered, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported. Trump told re­porters that “we could make a fast de­ci­sion” be­cause “al­most all of them are very well known.”

“They’ve been vet­ted over their life­time, essen­tially, but very well known, highly re­spected, re­ally tal­ented peo­ple,” the pres­i­dent said. “And that’s what we want for the FBI.”

Trump’s pick will have to be con­firmed by the Se­nate. FBI di­rec­tors serve 10-year terms but can be re­moved at any time by the pres­i­dent, as Comey was.

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