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Chicago FBI chief among candidates for interim director

FBI Special Agent in Charge of Chicago Michael J. Anderson speaks at an August 2016 press conference alongside Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson (left). | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

The head of the FBI’s Chicago division was among four people interviewed by Justice Department leaders on Wednesday for the role of interim FBI director, officials said.

Former FBI Director James Comey, who was fired on Tuesday by President Donald Trump, named Michael J. Anderson the special agent in charge of the Chicago field office in September 2015, according to the FBI.

Since starting with the FBI in 1995, Anderson’s focus has been on public corruption, civil rights and government fraud investigations during stints at the bureau’s offices in Miami, Washington, New Orleans and Dallas.

He supervised investigations of super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., and former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. Anderson also oversaw investigations targeting fraud in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and in reconstruction efforts in Iraq.

Neither Anderson nor an FBI Chicago spokesman responded to messages seeking comment on Wednesday.

The interim director position is currently held by Andrew McCabe, Comey’s top deputy. McCabe met with Justice officials on Tuesday, but it wasn’t clear how seriously he was being considered for the job. He previously led the bureau’s Washington field office.

Contenders for interim FBI director include Andrew McCabe (left), William Evanina, Paul Abbate, and Adam Lee. | File photo
Contenders for interim FBI director include Andrew McCabe (left), William Evanina, Paul Abbate, and Adam Lee. | File photo

Officials identified the other contenders who interviewed Wednesday as Adam Lee, who runs the FBI’s office in Richmond, Virginia; Paul Abbate, who oversees the FBI’s criminal and cyber branch; and William Evanina, the government’s chief counterintelligence officer and a former FBI supervisor.


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The acting director would serve until Congress confirms a permanent director, which could take some time given bipartisan angst over Comey’s firing. The Senate intelligence committee said it expects McCabe to appear at a hearing Thursday on current and projected national security threats.

McCabe’s actions are among the decisions being scrutinized in an ongoing Justice Department inspector general probe of the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. That investigation is looking into whether McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton case after his wife received large campaign contributions from a Clinton ally during her failed Senate run.

The FBI has said that when his wife first considered running for the seat, McCabe consulted with FBI ethics officers for guidance to prevent against actual or potential conflict of interest.

Contributing: Associated Press