President Trump reportedly set to work early Wednesday to choose a replacement for his first FBI director, James Comey.
While Trump’s surprise firing of Comey has led to speculation that he is attempting to cover up the Russia investigation, others are waiting to see who the Republican will pick.
Choosing a loyalist — someone like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani — would fuel allegations of a cover up of the Russia probe. An apolitical pick, on the other hand, would tamp down on those claims.
Trump’s pick, whoever it is, must receive at least 51 votes from the Senate. Strong opposition from Democrats combined with criticism from some GOP senators about the timing of Comey’s firing makes it likely that the next FBI chief will not be overtly pro-Trump. But whether Trump bases his choice on likelihood of confirmation remains to be seen.
The former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rogers now works as an analyst for CNN. He also briefly served on the Trump transition’s national security advisory team.
Though a Republican, Rogers’ appointment would be well received by Democrats. It would also undercut their allegations that Trump fired Comey to cover up the Russia investigation. Rogers, a former FBI agent from Michigan, has harshly criticized the Kremlin for meddling in the presidential election.
Picking the South Carolina congressman would be well received by Trump’s base. Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, gained prominence for leading the House Select Committee on Benghazi. The panel’s investigation led to the revelation that Hillary Clinton used a private email server as secretary of state.
But Gowdy’s aggressive investigation of Clinton would likely hurt his chances of passing Senate confirmation.
A former federal judge in Chicago, Filip served as deputy attorney general for the last year of the George W. Bush administration.
He currently works in private practice at the white shoe law firm, Kirkland and Ellis. Working in Filip’s favor is his past clerkship for former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Thompson served as deputy attorney general at the beginning of the Bush administration. As Politico notes, if Thompson is picked, he would become the first African-American nominated to serve as FBI director.
Thompson was floated as a possibility to replace Bush-era Attorney General John Ashcroft after his resignation in 2004.
Trump’s Justice Department has already given a subtle nod to Thompson.
In his letter justifying firing Comey, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cited an article co-authored by Thompson criticizing Comey’s July 5 announcement shutting the Clinton email investigation as “antithetical to the interests of justice.”
Ironically, Rosenstein said he was recommending Comey be fired for being unfair to Clinton in that investigation.
The former New York City mayor has been floated as a possibility for several positions in the Trump administration. Giuliani is close to Trump and is currently serving as an unpaid White House adviser on cyber security issues.
Giuliani was spotted Tuesday night at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. He told reporters that he was visiting the White House but declined to say if he will be meeting with Trump.
If picked, Giuliani will face stiff odds of passing Senate confirmation. Questions have been raised about Giuliani’s statements prior to the election about having inside knowledge of the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton. He is also currently a member of the legal team for Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian man who is under federal indictment for busting sanctions against Iran.
The New Jersey governor is also close to Trump and has been the subject of numerous rumors regarding Trump administration positions.
A former federal prosecutor himself, Christie would have to overcome two tall hurdles in the nomination process. The investigation into the closing of a New Jersey bridge in — dubbed “Bridgegate” — hangs over Christie’s head, even though he was never charged in the case.
There is also bad blood between Christie and Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner. As U.S. attorney in New Jersey in the early 2000s, Christie prosecuted Kushner’s father for taking illegal campaign contributions, witness tampering and fraud. He was sentenced to two years in prison.
The former New York City police commissioner would gel well with Trump’s tough-on-crime posture.
Kelly, 75, served as the Big Apple’s top cop during the David Dinkins and Michael Bloomberg administrations. Kelly would face scrutiny over his past support for stop-and-frisk policies, as well as his involvement in surveilling mosques in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
Currently the acting director of the bureau, McCabe is reportedly being interviewed by Sessions and Rosenstein on Wednesday to serve as interim director. A McCabe pick would provide a seamless transition from the Comey era and tamp down on speculation that Comey was canned over the FBI probe.
But McCabe has faced resistance from Republicans because of his wife’s political connection to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Jill McCabe received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from McAuliffe for her 2015 campaign for state senate. McAuliffe is a close ally of the Clintons. He is also reportedly under investigation for campaign contributions he received in 2013 from a Chinese billionaire who sought business in Virginia.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sought McCabe’s recusal from the Trump-Russia investigation.
McCabe could also face scrutiny from Democrats over his contacts with the Trump White House. In March, it was reported that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus asked McCabe if the FBI would tell reporters that Trump was not connected to the Russian election hacking. The White House said that McCabe told Priebus that stories about the investigation were “bullshit.”
A former prosecutor under Rudy Giuliani in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York, Townsend served as homeland security adviser in the George W. Bush administration.
Townsend would be the first woman considered for FBI chief. She currently works as a national security analyst for CBS.
The Milwaukee sheriff would be a fantasy pick for a small faction of Trump loyalists. His name has appeared on several lists of possible Trump picks.
But Clarke has almost no chance of being confirmed by the Senate. Though a Democrat, he would be hindered by his penchant for making inflammatory and anti-PC comments. In 2015, Clarke asserted that the Black Lives Matter movement would at some point join forces with ISIS.
If picked — a big “if” — Clarke would also be the first African-American chosen to lead the FBI.
Former FBI assistant director Ron Hosko provided some analysis of the list.
“There is no way Giuliani or Christie will receive the nomination,” he tells The Daily Caller.
“Too political/Trumpian,” he says of the two Trump loyalists.
Hosko served as FBI assistant director until 2014. He knows and worked with Comey.
Gowdy would also be hampered by his political bent, Hosko says.
“Gowdy was so anti-Hillary there would be no consensus, which for the sake of credibility I think a nominee must have,” says Hosko.
Hosko, who was heavily critical of Hillary Clinton during the email probe, says he would prefer Trump pick someone like Filip or Thompson.
“Someone who’s been inside DOJ, knows how to make cases, apolitical generally, who has worked with FBI closely and successfully but not a talker for any political issue,” Hosko says.