President Donald Trump is interviewing two more FBI director candidates on Tuesday in what has become a winding search to find a new leader for the nation’s premier law enforcement agency.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump was interviewing John Pistole, an FBI veteran and former Transportation Security Administration director who is now the president of Anderson University, and Christopher Wray, the former head of the Justice Department’s criminal division who now works in private practice at the King & Spalding law firm.
Spicer would not say whether the two men were the only ones now under consideration, or if they were considered finalists. Earlier this month, Trump had interviewed four different men, and from those former senator Joseph Lieberman emerged as a front-runner – though he soon withdrew his name from consideration.
Trump has said he could make a “fast decision” on replacing James B. Comey as head of the FBI – although so far, the process has been anything but. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein initially interviewed eight people for the post, but the White House has not identified any as a finalist or top contender, and some have taken their own names out of consideration.
The job would surely be a difficult one. The FBI handles the nation’s most sensitive terrorism and public corruption investigations. Its work – already the subject of intense public scrutiny – has received even more attention since Trump fired Comey as director amid a probe into whether Trump’s campaign coordinated with Russians to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Trump has said the Russia case was on his mind when he fired Comey, who wrote in a memo that Trump had asked him to shut down its look into a key figure in the investigation – former national security adviser Michael Flynn. The investigation is now being led by a special counsel.
The FBI director is generally appointed to a 10-year term so that the person in the job enjoys a measure of independence from politics. Whoever Trump appoints will require Senate approval, and winning that could prove difficult, as both Democrats and Republicans will probably push for a person who could resist the White House’s influence.
A representative of Anderson University said Pistole was not available for comment Tuesday, and Wray did not immediately return an email message seeking comment.
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Matt Zapotosky