Who might succeed Comey? Former FBI director candidates could be in mix

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FBI Director James Comey speaks in Washington on May 8, 2017. On Tuesday, in a letter to Comey, President Donald Trump said his firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI. | Susan Walsh/AP

WASHINGTON – James Comey was supposed to have at least six more years in his term as FBI director.

Now that he’s been abruptly fired by President Trump, the White House has launched a search to replace him.

Who could take his place? Neither the FBI nor Justice Department would provide any leads. But there could be some clues.

Four years ago, when then-President Barack Obama selected Comey to succeed Robert Mueller, his name came from a list of potential candidates who may now have a new chance at the office.

The most-discussed names in that pool included some of most familiar names in national law enforcement, along with a former member of Congress.

Before Comey’s selection was announced in 2013, former Republican House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a former FBI agent, was the favorite of the FBI Agents Association, a group of 13,000 current and former agents.

“Chairman Rogers exemplifies the principles that should be possessed by the next FBI director,” then-FBIAA President Konrad Motyka said at the time, announcing the association’s support for Rogers. “His unique and diverse experience as a veteran FBI agent and member of Congress will allow him to effectively lead the men and women of the bureau as they continue their work to protect our country from criminal and terrorist threats.”

Ken Wainstein, a former head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, was another favorite.

Earlier this week, Wainstein made a public appearance, even though he stayed off to the sidelines. He served as counsel to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper during a Monday appearance before a Senate subcommittee exploring Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Previously, he served as the FBI’s general counsel and Mueller’s chief of staff at the bureau.

At the Justice Department, Wainstein also once served as the chief federal prosecutor in D.C., and the director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, where he oversaw the operations of 94 federal prosecutors’ offices in the U.S.

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Another potential pick: John Pistole. Before his appointment as president of Anderson College in Indiana three years ago, the former deputy director of the FBI, had won notice for his steady direction of the Transportation Security Administration.

Pistole also is a close friend of Comey who attended the former TSA director’s induction as Anderson College president.

Some current and former FBI agents also have pointed to Michael Mason, a former executive assistant FBI director, as a candidate for the top job.

Before leaving the bureau, Mason oversaw criminal and cyber investigations, coordinated international operations and the bureau’s crisis response operations.

Two former New York officials were also linked to previous discussions about top jobs at the bureau and the Justice Department: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

Giuliani, a high-profile surrogate for the Trump campaign, had been considered for a number of positions in the new administration, including attorney general and secretary of State. Meanwhile, Kelly is an executive at a private security firm.

As the search continues, the FBI is being headed by Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

But McCabe, who helped oversee the bureau’s contentious investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, also has drawn heat.

McCabe’s wife, a candidate for state office in Virginia, was the recipient of nearly $500,000 raised by an organization linked to Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The FBI claimed that the deputy director played no role in the campaign.

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