Of a long list of possible candidates to succeed Robert Mueller as FBI director, the Associated Press is suggesting that James Comey and Kenneth Wainstein, two high Justice Department officials from the George W. Bush administration, have the edge. The AP cited only “people familiar with the search” as sources. Mueller’s 10-year, nonrenewable term expires Sept. 4.
The explanation of Comey and Wainstein’s prominence is that the Obama administration faces an expanded Republican minority in the Senate, which must confirm the choice. Comey became a hero to Democratic opponents of Bush’s warrantless wiretapping when Comey, as Deputy Attorney General, refused for a time to reauthorize it. Wainstein was working for Mueller at the FBI when agents at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, objected to abusive interrogation techniques employed by the military and when Mueller decided FBI agents could not participate in interviews involving these techniques.